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Air Mobility Command takes home Sadler Cup

Air Mobility Command security forces Airmen hold the Sadler Cup after the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge award ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. The Sadler Cup was awarded to the AMC team for placing first in the dismounted operations component of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Air Mobility Command security forces Airmen hold the Sadler Cup after the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge award ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. The Sadler Cup was awarded to the AMC team for placing first in the dismounted operations component of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Senior Airman Anthony Hu, 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and Air Mobility Command team member, performs pushups during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. Hu performed the last exercise of the combat endurance test on the last day of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Senior Airman Anthony Hu, 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and Air Mobility Command team member, performs pushups during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. Hu performed the last exercise of the combat endurance test on the last day of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

A bead of sweat drips off the chin of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, after a ruck march during his preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. During training, professional military standards were held to the highest standards. If team members failed to meet them, additional physical training was added for the entire team to complete.

A bead of sweat drips off the chin of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, after a ruck march during his preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. During training, professional military standards were held to the highest standards. If team members failed to meet them, additional physical training was added for the entire team to complete.

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command train on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 5, 2018. To qualify for the competition, security forces members tried out by completing a 6-mile run carrying 25-35 pounds in under two hours; a stress shoot with an M4 carbine and M9 pistol; a CrossFit Hero workout; a test of their reaction to near and far ambushes; an obstacle course; and field operations fire team movements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command train on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 5, 2018. To qualify for the competition, security forces members tried out by completing a 6-mile run carrying 25-35 pounds in under two hours; a stress shoot with an M4 carbine and M9 pistol; a CrossFit Hero workout; a test of their reaction to near and far ambushes; an obstacle course; and field operations fire team movements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, security forces director, and Brig. Gen. Steven Bleymaier, AMC director of logistics, engineering and force protection, present the Sadler Cup to the AMC team during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge awards ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. The Sadler Cup was awarded to AMC for winning the dismounted operations challenge of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, security forces director, and Brig. Gen. Steven Bleymaier, AMC director of logistics, engineering and force protection, present the Sadler Cup to the AMC team during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge awards ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. The Sadler Cup was awarded to AMC for winning the dismounted operations challenge of the three-day competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Medals sit in a tray during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge award ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. Gold, silver and bronze coins were awarded to place winners in the competition. The competition was comprised of weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Medals sit in a tray during the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge award ceremony on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13, 2018. Gold, silver and bronze coins were awarded to place winners in the competition. The competition was comprised of weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command exercise while training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The team spent three weeks preparing for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge that tested security forces Airmen’s skills through weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command exercise while training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The team spent three weeks preparing for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge that tested security forces Airmen’s skills through weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

The Air Mobility Command team exercises on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The team trained for three weeks together before the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge. The challenge is a worldwide Air Force competition that pits security forces teams against each other in weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance tests.(U.S. Air force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

The Air Mobility Command team exercises on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The team trained for three weeks together before the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge. The challenge is a worldwide Air Force competition that pits security forces teams against each other in weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance tests.(U.S. Air force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command run in full gear during while training for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The AMC team was one of 14 teams representing each of the 10 Air Force major commands, the Air National Guard, the Air Force District of Washington and German and British Royal air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command run in full gear during while training for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The AMC team was one of 14 teams representing each of the 10 Air Force major commands, the Air National Guard, the Air Force District of Washington and German and British Royal air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command catch their breath after training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 5, 2018. The team was comprised of four members who competed against other Airmen in AMC to determine who was the best and would represent the major command.
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Security forces Airmen with Air Mobility Command catch their breath after training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 5, 2018. The team was comprised of four members who competed against other Airmen in AMC to determine who was the best and would represent the major command.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Wade, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 87th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven, and Senior Airman Joseph Pace, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, 92nd SFS installation patrolman, perform tactical combat casualty care during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base MDL, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The AMC team trained in a variety of security forces skills to maximize their chances of winning the competition.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Wade, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 87th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven, and Senior Airman Joseph Pace, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, 92nd SFS installation patrolman, perform tactical combat casualty care during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base MDL, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The AMC team trained in a variety of security forces skills to maximize their chances of winning the competition.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luciano Rosano, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 421st Security Forces Squadron combat training instructor, and Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Carpino, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 6th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge and Air Mobility Command team coach, practice carrying a litter during training for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base MDL, Sept. 5, 2018. Litter carries enables transportation of injured personnel while low crawling under fire.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luciano Rosano, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 421st Security Forces Squadron combat training instructor, and Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Carpino, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 6th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge and Air Mobility Command team coach, practice carrying a litter during training for the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base MDL, Sept. 5, 2018. Litter carries enables transportation of injured personnel while low crawling under fire.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Murphy, 421st Combat Training Squadron Phoenix Raven instructor, leads his team through close quarter combat training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The exercise taught the Airmen how to tactically approach scenarios as a team when extracting prisoners of war.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Murphy, 421st Combat Training Squadron Phoenix Raven instructor, leads his team through close quarter combat training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2018. The exercise taught the Airmen how to tactically approach scenarios as a team when extracting prisoners of war.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, follows a GPS during land navigation training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge, Sept. 7, 2018. Land navigation was part of the dismounted operations portion of the competition, which the AMC team won. Each team was comprised of four main competitors and two alternatives and selected based on their performance and progression when the teams first began training.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, follows a GPS during land navigation training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge, Sept. 7, 2018. Land navigation was part of the dismounted operations portion of the competition, which the AMC team won. Each team was comprised of four main competitors and two alternatives and selected based on their performance and progression when the teams first began training.

Senior Airman Joseph Pace, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, 92nd Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Murphy, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 421st Combat Training Squadron Phoenix Raven instructor, navigate the woods using a map and GPS during land navigation training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 7, 2018. Teams were instructed to find specific marked points using only a map and GPS to find their way.
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Senior Airman Joseph Pace, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, 92nd Security Forces Squadron installation patrolman, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Murphy, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 421st Combat Training Squadron Phoenix Raven instructor, navigate the woods using a map and GPS during land navigation training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge Sept. 7, 2018. Teams were instructed to find specific marked points using only a map and GPS to find their way.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas --

Purple haze blocked the team’s view charging toward the white arch that hung over the finish line. Five miles of challenging dismounted operations obstacles had the team covered in mud and dripping sweat. Struggling to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, the Air Mobility Command team held onto each other as they took their last strides to the end.

This was the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge.

“These guys are the best of the best of the AMC,” said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Carpino, 6th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge and AMC team coach, “They work very well together as a team, as one entity, as one unit.”

As the team crossed the finish line, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, 436th SFS response force leader and AMC team lead, could taste the salt dripping down his face as he inhaled, trying to catch his breath. He sat on the bed of a blue pickup truck and as he came down from his adrenaline-rush tunnel vision, his coaches lifted off the 45 pounds of gear he had strapped to his body.

The AMC team was one of 14 teams representing each of the 10 Air Force major commands, the Air National Guard, the Air Force District of Washington and German and British Royal air forces. Each team is comprised of four members who competed against Airmen in their own MAJCOMs to determine who the best was.

This three-day challenge, dating back to 1981 is a worldwide Air Force competition that pits security forces teams against each other in weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance tests.

The AMC team rigorously trained together for three weeks on the fields of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, preparing them for the competition.

“[The team] works off of each other’s strengths, they know each other's weaknesses and cover down on any gaps that they have,” said Carpino. “Each day, they come out more raring to go... As far as motivation goes, they have plenty to spend and plenty to give.”

On the second day of the competition, the team ruck marched through the muddy woods, bodies aching from the obstacles they had to complete throughout.

With the end near, Everett followed the GPS with the rest of his team close behind. As they approached the end of the woods, he looked up, greeted by a hill that stretched in either direction. Desperate to avoid the climb, Everett pointed the GPS in every direction hoping to find a different route.

“At [Joint Base MDL] we trained on low-level terrain, so these hills kind of took our souls,” said Everett. “It was rough but we made it through and persevered.”

Crossing the finish line at 2 hours and 41 minutes, AMC had 19 minutes to spare—earning the Sadler Cup for the fastest time in the dismounted operations course.

“I love the competition and it’s a good experience competing against other defenders,” said Senior Airman Anthony Hu, 6th SFS military working dog handler and AMC team member. “Everybody here is the best each MAJCOM has to offer so it makes it a challenge...It’s definitely been an eye-opener to see where I am physically and mentally and how I shoot against other world-class defenders.”

After all teams completed each challenge of the three-day competition, an award ceremony was held at the base theatre. The AMC team was awarded third place for weapons scenarios and first place for dismounted operations. The placements won each member and coach two medals and the team three trophies to bring home to AMC.

As the competition came to an end, all participants began to go their separate ways to their respective bases. The recommencing of the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge after a 14-year hiatus brought a new sense of pride to the security forces community.

“I feel honored to have been in this competition,” said Everett. “To everybody else, I think they should try out the next time it happens. I'm glad I did it and I have no regrets… Regardless of win or lose, I'm happy I got the chance to be a part of something this big.”