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Marines, ROKs face off in live-fire competition

29 Feb 2008 | Cpl. GP Ingersoll

Sgt. Deandray L. Dyer didn’t think it was going to be much of a competition.

 Until the ROKs started shooting.

 The Marines of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance soon found themselves down 2 – 0 at the hands of the Republic of Korea Marines during a “lumberjack” range competition here Feb. 29.

 The lumberjack competition consists of two four-man teams, racing each other first to complete cardiovascular exercises, such as sprints and pushups. The exercises end when competitors reach their weapons, which are already set up at the firing line, and the first man begins to fire. The second man fires when the first exhausts his ammo.

 The object of the game is to shoot a two-inch-by-two-inch post in half before the other team does.

 Sounds like an easy task, until you factor in distance (no more than 25 yards), protective equipment and heavy breathing.

 “(Competition) breeds a desire to perform, it gives both of us an opportunity to showcase our tactical and technical prowess,” said 1st Lt. Damon A. Doykos, platoon commander, 1st LAR.

 And showcase they did, as the ROKs astounded Marines by jumping out to a quick lead.

 “There’s no two ways about it, they’re just out-shooting you guys,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas R. Johnson, platoon sergeant, 1st LAR.

 Rather than be discouraged, the challenge bolstered the Leathernecks, who in turn surged forward with two wins of their own. But the competition wasn’t just about winning.

 “When we knew we were going to be training with the ROK Marines, we knew this competition was something you could develop a long-term relationship through,” Doykos said.

 The ROK leaders agreed.

 “At first the training was awkward because we didn’t know each other; it was just U.S. and Korea,” said Sgt. Kang-Sik Lee, 22, from Dae/Go, South Korea. “Now we have a feeling of unity,” said Lee, a rifleman, with ROK 2/1.

 Lee also said the drill helped him gauge his urban marksmanship, a particular skill he admits these Marines have a lot of war-time experience in. The respect was mutual.

 “These dudes are no J-V; they know their weapons,” said Johnson, 28. “All in all, I’d say I’d fight with them.”

 Maintaining and strengthening the alliance is a necessity, Marines from 1st LAR said. In those aspects, the competition succeeded.

 These games build morale and overall cohesion between allies, said Dyer, an LAV gunner with 1st LAR.

 “This is a friendly competition,” said Dyer, 26, Kalamazoo, Mich.

 Win or lose, the game trained Marines from both countries, and that’s the overall point.

 But it’s still fun to win.

 Final score: U.S. Marines 7; ROK Marines 2.