Local Ranger and teammate in second place in USA 2013 Best Ranger competition

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Sgt. 1st Class John M. Gendron and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Horsager, a team from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., finished second in the 30th annual Best Ranger Competition held recently at Fort Benning.

A native of Bark River, Gendron is the son of Cheryl (Dean) Miller of Bark River and John L. Gendron of Quinnesec. Horsager is from Valley City, N.D.

The grueling Best Ranger Competition stars the best soldiers of the world – US Army Rangers. Fifty two-man teams of the best qualifying Rangers throughout the United States of America participated in this year’s competition.

Initiated by and named after lieutenant General David E. Grante (U.S. Army retired) when he was the Commandant of the U.S. Army Ranger School, the Best Ranger competition has been held annually since 1981 at Fort Benning by the Ranger Training Brigade. The competition is a three-day event consisting of physical and mental tasks undertaken with very little rest between events. The historical attrition rate averages 60 percent. Competitors are not aware of test sequence until arriving at the test site.

The objective is to identify and reward the best two man Ranger team in the military who possesses the highest skill and fitness level in those areas that reflect the professional qualities of Army Rangers. The winners of the Best Ranger Competition are widely recognized as the finest soldiers in the world. The competition is open to any active duty military person, regardless of service, who holds the coveted Ranger Tab.

The Best Ranger Competition is one of the most difficult competitive events in existence today, comprised of 60 straight hours of grueling physical tests, skill evaluations and mental challenges. Less than 30 percent of the Rangers who begin the competition remain to the finish.

The road march events are performed over an unknown distance by warriors carrying a 65-pound pack with all equipment. It routinely culls the field by 50 percent. The team or teams that win the road marches usually are a contender for the overall championship.

SFC Gendron attended Bark River-Harris schools into high school and then graduated from Norway High School in May 2000. He joined the Army two years later and completed Basic Training, Airborne Training, the Ranger Indoctrine Program or RIP (now called RASP – Ranger Assessment Selection Program) and Ranger School 2004, all at Fort Benning.

He was then stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment by late October of 2002.

Other schools and accomplishments and competitions he has attended/received have been US Army Sniper School (Top Team), Special Forces Sniper Course (Honor Graduate), Survival Evade Resist Escape School (SERE), Jumpmaster School, International Sniper Competition (seventh place), 2009 All Army Combative Championship 205 pounds (first place).

The Ranger was stationed at Fort Lewis until July 2011 when his unit was transferred to Fort Benning to become assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment Special Troops Battalion. While at Fort Benning he served as a Mortar Platoon Team Leader, a Sniper Section Leader and a Sniper Platoon Leader.

Over the years, Gendron has accumulated nine deployments and more than 40 months of overseas time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Since transferring to Georgia, he has become a RASP 2 instructor, allowing him the time to train-up for the Best Ranger Competition. The train-up period was from late January until the competition on April 12-14. It was a 60-hour, over 60-mile endurance competition for the Ranger qualified soldiers.

John and his partner won several of the events over the three-day competition. Overall they placed second in the competition and also took home two additional trophies, the Richard A. Leandri Award for Best in Nigh Land Orienteering and the Cpt. Russ Rippetoe Bronze Boot Award for winning the Foot march. This was SFC Gendron’s first time competing and SFC Horsager’s second.

Gendron married his high school sweetheart, the former Erin Sampogna, daughter of Jeanette (Rick) Peltier of Bark River and John Sampogna of Van Nuys, Calif., in 2002 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Bark River. They are the parents of two boys, Peyton, 12, and Cael, 9.

SFC Gendron is the grandson of Harold and Emeilia Ogren of Ford River and Leonard and Lois Gendron of Quinnesec.