USASMA, DEA partner to honor fallen
By Master Sgt. Michelle M. Johnson, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy:
(El Paso, Texas, March. 16, 2017) Students from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy collaborated with the Drug Enforcement Agency to honor fallen Soldiers and leaders as part of the El Paso area DEA Maltz Challenge here March 9.
More than 300 future sergeants major and DEA personnel completed the grueling physical challenge that consists of eight tasks. Competitors worked in teams of eight to complete a 400-meter run, followed by 200 pullups, eight 100-meter fireman carries, 200 triceps dips, 400 pushups, 200 hanging knee-to-elbow crunches, 400 sit-ups and finished with a second 400-meter run.
What started as a workout to honor the memory of one fallen service member has turned into an annual international event at the end of winter that remembers its namesake and other fallen service members, chosen by local participants. Countless U.S. military units, gyms, law enforcement agencies, five NFL teams and DEA offices throughout the world team up for the Maltz Challenge to pay homage to and let Gold Star families know their sons and daughters will always be honored and remembered.
USASMA named two sergeants major as their 2017 honorees.
Sgt. Maj. Bradly D. Conner, 41, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, died May 9, 2007, near Al-Hillah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improved explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Conner was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord), Washington.
USASMA student Master Sgt. Joshua Miller nominated Conner.
“He was a stalwart member (of my battalion),” Miller said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras, of Tucson, Arizona, died May 13, 2014, of wounds from any enemy attack in Harat Province, Afghanistan, May 6, 2014. Barreras was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, here at Fort Bliss.
“This (challenge) is just a fraction of what he went through,” said USASMA student Master Sgt. Caeser J. Llanez, who nominated Barreras to be one of USASMA’s honorees,
“He was my mentor. He was all about the Soldier. He took care of the Soldier 24/7,” Llanez said.
The DEA’s 2017 local honoree, Spc. William J. Byler, 23, of Ballinger, Texas, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was killed Oct. 31, 2005, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during patrol operations in Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Byler was on his second tour of duty at the time of his death and the Maltz Challenge is just one way to honor him and his family.
Editor’s note: Jennifer Tinkler, with the Drug Enforcement Agency, contributed to this article.
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