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There’s good, then there’s the best of the best

By Lance Cpl. M. Daniel Sanchez | | November 16, 2007

 Marines thrive on competition. Whether it is against other services, other bases or other units, Marines can’t wait for an opportunity to prove who’s the best.

 For the past eight months, the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 ordnance section has held the title of “Best of the Best” within MALS-13.

 The competition was started by Sgt. Maj. Joe L. Vines, former Black Widows sergeant major, as a way to get the whole unit together while promoting squadron pride, said Cpl. Buddy Carr, MALS-13 ordnance gun shop.

 It also promotes unit teamwork, camaraderie, and esprit de corps, said Cpl. Demetrius Duran, MALS-13 ordnance rack shop technician.

 Carr said the squadron would get together every few months and compete in various field meet events to determine who would walk away the top devil dogs.

 “There were wheel barrel races, squad push-ups and 7-ton pulls. I liked the tug-of-war best because during it everyone’s all motivated and screaming at the top of their lungs,” said Duran, a Las Cruces, N.M., native.

 However, the competition wasn’t limited to only squadron-wide events, said Carr. As the guidon holder, challengers could come at anytime and try to take the flag or challenge the sections formally.

 “(Vines) put a challenge out if any one could walk in here and take the flag, they could have it. If at anytime they could take it, they could have it,” said Carr. “For a couple days we had a guard posted at the door. It got crazy for a while.”

 Carr said they had to move the flag to the interior of the shop so everyone could see it and make sure the ordnance Marines could defend it.

 Today, the flag still rests in its holder between the MALS-13 ordnance gun shop and rack shop, reminding Marines of the last battle for the guidon.

 “Everybody was pumped up. It was the last competition with Sgt. Maj. Vines around and everybody wanted that flag. I’ve never seen people put out more than that time,” Sgt. Steven Cullen, MALS-13 ordnance airborne weapons support equipment. “By the end of the competition, we looked like hell.”

 “When they tallied up all the points, it turned out to be a tie between ordnance and maintenance. We had to do fireman carry (with three pairs), switch and run back,” said Cullen, a native of Newark, Del.

 “The maintenance team was a little bit ahead of us. We were catching up and (maintenance) fell. Our guys just picked each other up and ran across the line,” said Cullen.

 “We actually fell and still won,” said Lance Cpl. Riley Lucas, MALS-13 ordnance munitions.

 Lucas was the Marine who won the sudden death event for ordnance.

 “I’m a game-time player. I come up big in big events,” said Lucas, a native of Seattle.

 “It’s hard making the other shops look bad, because then they don’t want to show up the next year,” said Lucas, letting his ordnance pride show through.

 “You’ve gotta have too much pride for your own good to win,” said Carr, a Spartanburg, N.C., native.

 While there hasn’t been a competition since Vines left, ordnance has made sure to pass on the spirit of competition to its Marines.

 “I think the competition is awesome because it helps us as ordnance come together. It gives us the chance to back up being the best,” said Lance Cpl. Robert Chaffin, who has been working as an ordnanceman since August.

 Lance Cpl. Nate Ridgley, MALS-13 ordnance gun shop, said he looks forward to proving ordnance is still the best of the best.

 Cullen said, although it has been a while since ordnance has been challenged, they are ready to take on any who come their way.

 “Anytime, anyplace, any date, bring it,” said Cullen.

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