QUANTICO, Va. --
1st Marine Logistics Group’s team of six, composed of five Marines and one Sailor, took home the win at the second annual Iron Mike Challenge hosted by The Basic School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, May 7, 2022.
The Iron Mike Challenge celebrates the origins of The Basic School which dates back to 1891. The challenge was named after the term “Iron Mike,” which is American slang, historically used to refer to service members who are especially tough, brave, daring and inspiring. Its nautical origins as a ship’s gyrocompass used to keep ships steady and on course makes Iron Mike the perfect name for a grueling competition between service members.
Comprised of 11 six-man teams, the challenge consisted of both physical and mental challenges including tactical movement, land navigation, marksmanship, water survival, obstacle courses and forced decision-making within a constrained and uncertain environment. Teams were tested on time and proficiency over a demanding course, covering 18-23 miles.
The 1st MLG team consisted of: Lance Cpl. Kel Htoo with 1st Supply Battalion, Sgt. Jeffrey Haskins with 1st MLG, HM2 Lorenz Gabriel Flores with 1st Supply Battalion, 2nd Lt. Robert Howard with 1st Supply Battalion, 2nd Lt. Steven Eckenberg with Combat Logistics Regiment 17 Communications Company, and 2nd Lt. Brenden Ferrer Green with 1st MLG G-6.
Sgt Jeffrey Haskins, the Operations Noncommissioned Officer in Charge in the G-1 section at 1st MLG and a native of Phelan, California, has a love for fitness and a curiosity for defying the odds. Despite having no knowledge of the Iron Mike Challenge prior to the competition, he jumped at the chance to challenge his strength both mentally and physically.
“I have a very active fitness routine developed over years of preparing for MARSOC [Marine Forces Special Operations Command] assessment and selection, but the unknown of the course was the greatest psychological challenge for myself,” said Haskins. “The team struggled only in the aspect that each of us were at different fitness levels in our careers, so staying together and pushing the limit of the group was a chore but a worthwhile pursuit.”
Despite the team being assembled in very short time before the challenge, they all came together to rigorously train in both physical fitness and military skills. Teams did not know exactly what obstacles or activities they would have to endure; strategic planning and training was imperative.
“The last event in the Iron Mike was the pond crossing, and also the most challenging,” said 2nd Lt. Brenden Ferrer Green, the Logistics Network Operations Center Officer in Charge at 1st MLG G-6. “After running approximately 23 miles soaking wet, we had to transport a casualty across the pond using only the gear we had. By that time most of us were cramping because of the cold water and fatigue, but we all agreed at the beginning that we would complete every event. We ended up building a raft with our assault packs to transport the casualty across the pond. We filled our water-proofing bags with air and inserted them into our assault packs. To add more buoyancy, we also blew air into our camelbacks to inflate them.”
Each team was given the opportunity to opt out of an event to save time and energy but would sacrifice those points for each event. The team with the best time was awarded 25 extra points, but the team with the most points would ultimately win. 1st MLG’s team was the only team to complete all events, which helped them finished with the most points and secure the victory.