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National Guard company ends training activities with Easter meal
Sgt. Hytowitz’s squad makes its way up a hill during the Comanche Challenge. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan
GAINESVILLE — After breaking their backs all weekend in the annual Comanche Challenge, the Gainesville-based Charlie Company of the Army National Guard broke bread.

Members of the company shared an Easter meal together after many of them had gone head-to-head in the weekend’s training activities, which tested their combat skills in water with a timed 50-meter swim relay, a six-mile rucksack march, a nine-line Medevac request test and a milelong squad run followed by a stress shoot. The stress shoot tested the soldiers’ abilities to hit targets after running a mile up and down the hills of Northeast Georgia.

It proved to be the most difficult of all the challenges for 22-year-old Nicholas Hammond, a soldier from Dahlonega.

"When you go straight into a shoot, and you’re trying to hit small targets after your heart’s all pumped up, it’s really hard," Hammond said.

Members of the squad that performed the best in the training event were awarded the Army Achievement Medal for their performance shortly before the soldiers sat down to Easter dinner.

About 70 soldiers in the company participated in the training event dubbed the Comanche Challenge that was meant to put them in a "current and realistic" training situation, said Lt. Marc Pfrogner.

"It was challenging— it definitely was," said Hammond.

The company, of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Brigade, will head to Afghanistan in the spring of next year to train security forces there for about eight to 10 months. They are training at least one weekend per month to prepare them for next year’s deployment.

"Our company has a reputation of being at a higher training tempo than others," said Lt. Frank Barroqueiro.

Though details are still unclear about the company’s duties or the time of its deployment to Afghanistan, the members are prepared to do their job, whatever it may be.

"Nobody wants to go ... but we all want to do our job," Pfrogner said. "We’re optimistic about it — I’m optimistic."

The company was last deployed to Iraq in May 2005 and returned in April 2006 with every man accounted for.

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