NAPLES, Italy – In true NATO fashion, a multinational team from Allied Joint Force Command Naples competed in the annual Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Field Gun Competition at the HMS Collingwood Open Day in Portsmouth, United Kingdom on June 2.
Often referred to as "the toughest sport in the world”, Field Gun is a fast paced competition which challenges teams to move, assemble, dismantle and fire a 100-year-old, antique, one tonne Field Gun over a 170 yard course in the fastest time possible. The team, made up of eight different nations, earned the Endeavor Trophy for their efforts and achievements throughout the season including a fastest time of 1 minute, 35 seconds.
With crew members from Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States, they became the first team ever to have a non-Briton as the "Number One Trainer". In his 3rd year with the JFC Naples Field Gun crew, German Army Master Sergeant Patrick Krainer was tasked to lead the crew in training and leading the crew during the competition.
"This is what NATO stands for: male, female, enlisted, senior noncommissioned officers and officers from all branches and from all different nations working together as one team,” said Krainer. "The camaraderie amongst the team is just amazing and it’s a special experience.”
The team arrived in England 11 days before the competition leading to long, uninterrupted training ensuring all members knew how to do their positon along with breaking new team records for various maneuvers throughout the week. With some days consisting of practicing for more than four hours a day on the track, the team was beat, battered and bruised.
"Waking up every day feeling like I had slept underneath a slab of granite, knowing I was going to feel the same way tomorrow, then on game day, there was no pain,” said U.S. Navy Electronics Technician 2nd Class Tyler Welsh, JFC Naples wheelie. "The whole team just clicked and was ready to put in some work.”
This year, a total of 23 teams, including all branches of the U.K. Armed Forces, including Gibraltar and British Forces, Cyprus, competed for the Brickwoods Trophy in front of 10,000 spectators. The overall competition was won by the crew from HMS Heron with a close race between Heron and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. JFC Naples' final run was met with no penalties and put them ahead of Gibraltar.
"I’m hugely proud to be associated with the JFC Naples crew of 2018 who showed real determination, courage, strength, fortitude and dedication to win the Endeavour Trophy,” said Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Stephen Walton, JFC Naples field gun officer. "This is nothing less than an immense achievement! Well done team!”
To learn more about Field Gun, click here.