MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
East Coast Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Marines demonstrated their skills while competing in the 25th Annual East Coast ARFF Rodeo aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Oct. 1, 2011.
“This event brings the crash crews from the East Coast together to compete against one another to see who has the best team,” said Cpl. Gary E. Meadows, a crew chief with Cherry Point’s Aircraft Rescue Firefighting. “The events in today’s competition demonstrate things we do in our job every day.”
The teams competed in several races, which included: a bunker gear drill, fireman’s carry, saw cutting and multiple other gear carries. Each event tested the Marines physically, said Meadows.
“No pilot weights 120 pounds,” said Meadows. “Being physically fit helps us in our everyday life. Being fit helps us to maintain the endurance to do be in our suits for hours.”
The Cherry Point team started its training in August and worked on its skills daily to be more competitive for the competition, said Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Smith, the event organizer for the rodeo and the administration chief for ARFF.
“Training for this competition is no different than training for everyday situations,” said Smith. “The Marines push themselves and do their very best.”
After the competition was over, the reigning champions from MCAS New River stood tall and took home the coveted “Gold Nozzle,” as they’ve done the past two years.
Cherry Point finished the day in third place behind MCAS Beaufort. Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico and Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue rounded out the rest with Bogue finishing last.
“We competed well in many events, but we dominated in the hose drill race,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin A. Parmele, the coach for the Cherry Point team and section leader for ARFF. “By us winning that event, it helped us stay in contention for first. You can practice all day for a competition but on game day anything goes. You can’t go in expecting to beat your best time.”
At the end of the day, the Marines of Cherry Point’s ARFF team competed strongly and did well, said Smith.
“This event overall helps us as firefighters and Marines,” said Meadows. “We have grown closer through this competition. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The camaraderie we built up here will carry over to our everyday lives.”