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NEWS | June 26, 2024

343rd, 344th Training Squadrons win Drill Down Competition

By Ava Leone 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

The 343rd and 344th Training Squadrons represented the 37th Training Group in the Second Air Force Drill Down Competition at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, on April 27.  

In a field comprising five wings and groups — the 17th, 37th, 59th, 81st, and 82nd — the 37 TRG stood out as a beacon of excellence, according to Tech. Sgt. Craig Irvine. With rigorous training, the 37th TRG secured first place, earning the distinction as the best Drill Team within the Second Air Force. 

Military Training Leaders Irvine and Staff Sgt. Michael Castro from the 343th TRS, and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Luc from the 344th TRS, led the team to success by spearheading comprehensive drill training sessions and investing considerable time and effort to prepare the team for the strenuous competition.  

Despite the demanding nature of the Airmen’s technical training schedules, which include rucking, combatives, and learning about their Air Force Specialty Codes, these Airmen displayed commitment, often sacrificing personal time to hone their skills. Their dedication was further reinforced by the support from Master Sgt. Derek Sizemore, a Military Training Instructor from the 737th Training Support Squadron, who provided crucial feedback and guidance during the practice sessions. 

Military Training Leader Tech. Sgt. Casey Calvert with the 344 TRS joined the team just seven days before the competition, and her last-minute inclusion proved instrumental in enhancing the team’s performance, according to Irvine. Additionally, Calvert took charge of coordinating the production of team shirts and offered vital morale support, serving as a central figure in motivating the team toward victory. 

According to Irvine, the Drill Team’s journey towards triumph encapsulates their exceptional abilities and their resilience, determination, and spirit of camaraderie. It epitomizes the commitment to excellence that defines the 37th Training Wing, according to Irvine. 

Several Airmen stood out among the team. As the only rifleman on the team, Airman Brandon Edwards was the center of attention during the freestyle portion. He also closed out the performance with a back handspring that caused the crowd to erupt into cheers, according to Irvine.

Together, the flight commanders, Airman Thomas Vasquez and Airman Germond Arthur with the 344th TRS, organized 220 practice hours for the team, leading them toward the first first-place win in the Drill Down Competition in five years.

Airman Viviana Rios, the guidon bearer, and her fellow 343rd TRS Airmen woke up at 5:30 a.m. to conduct Reveille and Retreat, endured a training day with ruck marches as far as five miles, and then attended drill practices that lasted three hours every day leading up to the competition. According to Irvine, Rios propelled the commitment of her fellow wingmen.  

The Second Air Force Drill Down Competition is an annual event where technical training students, known as Black Ropes, volunteer to be a part of the team and to compete against one another. The 37th TRW team was comprised of 20 Airmen from the 37th TRG.