Once Again, Conventional Army Teams Snag Top Spots at Best Ranger Competition

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- From left, Capts. Michael Rose and John Bergman of the 101st Airborne Division pose at the Ranger Monument April 15, 2019 at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army/Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- From left, Capts. Michael Rose and John Bergman of the 101st Airborne Division pose at the Ranger Monument April 15, 2019 at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army/Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Two captains from the Army's 101st Airborne Division have earned first place in this year's Best Ranger Competition, a title they earned together the first time in 2014.

The David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition is a physically and mentally exhausting three-day competition that puts two-member, Ranger-qualified teams through a series of tactical challenges involving weapons ranges, forced marches, obstacle courses, Ranger skill tests, and night land navigation.

Capts. John Bergman and Michael Rose outperformed 53 other teams in this year's competition that began April 12 and ran through April 14 at Fort Benning, Georgia, according to a Benning news release.

A team from the 173rd Airborne Brigade finished second, and another team from the 101st finished third. The top finishers are typically teams from the 75th Ranger Regiment and other Special Operations Command personnel.

Rose and Bergman are the first team members to win together twice, according to the release. Bergman and Rose won together in 2014 when they were second lieutenants representing the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

"Doing the hard things, it's fun, it's competitive," said Rose, who has now won Best Ranger three times, according to the release. "I feel like I've been a little selfish doing the competition three times. And I've had a blast doing it."

Rose won his second Best Ranger in 2017 when he represented the 75th Ranger Regiment with Master Sgt. Josh Horsager, according to the release.

A team from the 173rd Airborne -- Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Gerber and 1st Lt. Alastair Keys -- took second place in the competition.

And 1st Lts. Nathan Penick and Edward von Kuhn, also of the 101st Airborne, took third place.

The 101st had strong representation in the competition -- of only 16 teams to complete this year's competition, three were from the 101st, the release states.

"The competitors themselves, if you talk to any one of them, they're exceptional leaders or exceptional soldiers," Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, commander of the 101st, said in the release. "It's obvious why they were chosen to represent the division and compete here.

"The nature of the competition is all about combat readiness, the highest levels of combat readiness for individual Rangers. They've shown us all that they can do that and exceed the standards in grueling, grueling conditions. So, it serves to inspire all of us to just be better soldiers, better Rangers, better air assault troopers."

Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke at the awards ceremony April 15.

"With these young Ranger leaders here leading our Army," he said, "I am completely confident that our Armed Forces and the American Army will remain the most dominant military on the face of the planet."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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