One by one, boot by bloodied boot, warrior after warrior came across the finish line: body heat escaping their sweat drenched clothing in the form of steam against the cold of an early spring morning.
Some slumping over from the sheer weight of their rucks. Most grimacing from the pain of the 10-mile force march through a combination of asphalt, grass, gravel and sand. All of them displaying a deafening silence in personal tribute that the ordeal was at long last over. All of them save one; and that one, well she sang!
“And the warden sang, come on somebody, why don’t you run…”
Meet Spc. Kayla Bundy.
Bundy, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with 1st Bn. 414th Inf. Reg., 95th Training Div. (IET), was the unlikeliest of warriors at this year’s 108th Training Command (IET) Best Warrior competition held at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, March 20-25.
Standing a whopping 5 ft., she tangled with Soldiers and drill sergeants twice her size and three times her experience level. But her small size didn’t seem to slow her much as she bellowed out another verse of “Ol’ Red” over and over and over again!
“If I’m trying to burn some time and clear my head, I definitely want to sing and listen to some country music,” Bundy said. “There was a lot of time to burn on that march!”
Bundy who failed to meet the required time of 3 hours for that event could have given up, but she didn’t.
“There was a pick up spot and I was asked if I wanted to get in the van, but crap, I was just a mile and a half out so I might as well just finish.”
It should be said that out of the 35 total competitors, only three finished in the allotted 3 hours.
Bundy, who today feels as though she made a life changing decision by joining the Army Reserve in 2012, was appearing in her first competition, a competition she was not even really supposed to be in.
“I just found out ten days ago that I was supposed to be here so I didn’t really have much time to train up,” she said. “We had some other Soldiers who were supposed to be here but some didn’t get orders and some just didn’t show up. Soooo… here I am!”
So just what of her chances of winning; why not ask Bundy, herself?
“I want to win. I’m planning on winning,” she said.
And win she did.
Bundy placed first in the lower enlisted competition and now moves on to the Army Reserve level competition held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, May 2-6.
If you happen to be out there on the trails, give a listen. You may just be able to hear her singing her way to victory yet again.
‘”Get my lantern…get my gun…Red’ll have you treed before the mornin’ comes.”
Photo by: Spc. Kayla Bundy, 1st Bn., 414th Inf. Reg., 95th Training Division (IET), turns a corner at the half-way point of a 10-mile forced march during the 2016 108th Training Command (IET) Best Warrior competition held at Fort Jackson, S.C., March 21. This year’s Best Warrior competition determined the top NCO and junior enlisted Soldier who will represent the 108th Training Command (IET) at the Army Reserve Drill Sgt. of the Year competition later this year at Fort Bragg, N.C. Bundy was selected to represent the 108th in the junior enlisted competition. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/released)