Each year, reconnaissance Marines come together from across the country to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to an event which is unique to the reconnaissance brotherhood and community.
The Recon Challenge is a grueling team race which starts before sun rise with a two kilometer open water swim off the shore of San Onofre Beach, California. Once the Marines have returned to the beach, they begin a 25-mile trek over the mountainous terrain of Camp Pendleton with packs weighing no less than 45 pounds.
Scattered along the route are a series of stations designed to test the limits of the competitors, both physically and mentally, on basic reconnaissance skill sets such as radio communications, marksmanship, underwater tasks and weapon disassembly and assembly.
In 2009, senior enlisted Marines with the Basic Recon Training Company, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry West, held the first Recon Challenge as a way to bring the reconnaissance community together to honor the fallen Marines of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The event was started to bring our community together and honor our fallen and it still does to this day,” Maj. Patrick Zuber, officer in charge of BRTC stated. “Marines in our community come from all over the Marine Corps to get together and spend some time, share stories, share challenges and successes.”
Throughout the event the competitors carry a set of dog tags around their neck and an air panel, a highly visible material used to mark aircraft landing sites, tied to their packs with the stenciled name of a fallen reconnaissance Marine.
“When a Marine puts that air panel on his back and goes up the mountain, he is representing that fallen Marine and their family,” Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher May, the senior non-commissioned officer in charge of BRTC said. “This is about bringing them together showing them that they are still part of the reconnaissance family.”
As the challenge continues to grow each year, the community hopes to see it become a place where all reconnaissance Marines gather to pay tribute to the past and inspire the upcoming generation of recon Marines that will soon take their place.
“This event gives our community a single point where every year, we can come together, have some fun, and get out there and do what we love to do,” May added.
The 8th Annual Recon Challenge is scheduled to begin May 20, 2016, 4 a.m. at San Onofre Beach, California before heading into the hills of Camp Pendleton. Follow 1st Marine Division on Facebook and Twitter to support the Marines with continuing coverage throughout the event.
To become a part of this exceptional brotherhood and community, contact your career planner today for further details and information. The next class of Basic Recon Training is scheduled to start June 9, 2016 at the School of Infantry West.