A soldier takes part during a past Best Ranger Competition.

Four Alaska-based soldiers from the 11th Arctic Airborne Division, headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, will compete in the grueling “Best Ranger Competition” starting April 14.

The 2023 showdown (April 14-16) is the 39th annual contest starring some of the best U.S. soldiers in the Army. The two-man teams from Alaska include 1st Lt. William Swofford and 1st Lt. Mackenzie Butler, as well as Sgt. Jonah Lamboley and Spc. Seth Myers.

These men will join 54 other teams from 29 different units. Contestants will undergo 32 punishing events to test their physical, technical and cognitive limits. Over the course of three days, these soldiers will move more than 60 miles – 30 or more of those with 50-pound packs. On average, each man will expend 30,000 or more calories a day.

The 60-hour competition includes testing with 13 different weapon systems, marksmanship in handgun, rifle, long gun, machine gun and mortar weapons – both dismounted and mounted.

The men will also perform 18 tactical tasks. This year’s unique events include conflict kinetics, laser shot engagements, casualty evacuation, medical hoist, kayak, zipline and much more. They will also perform four helicopter missions.

The competition began in 1982 after Dick Leandri found a way to honor his personal friend and Ranger legend, Lieutenant Gen. David E. Grange, Jr. This year’s event is themed “Memorialization and Modernization.”

The arduous contest has evolved over the past 39 years from a competition that was originally created to salute the best two-man “buddy” team in the Ranger Department at Fort Benning, GA to today, where it determines the best two-man team comprised of “Ranger-qualified” soldiers from across all active duty, reserve and national guard members.

Cpt. Mike Rose is the most legendary of all competitors. He entered the event three times and won each contest with his partner, making him the only three-time victor. Three other men have won it twice. After Rose’s last win in 2019, the rules were modified to allow contestants a maximum of three entries over their career.

To watch the event live, click here.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Alaskan soldiers to compete in grueling ‘Best Ranger Competition’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

1 Comment