JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas --
Air Combat Command (ACC) placed second overall, ultimately collecting three trophies, at the 2018 Defender Challenge, Sept. 10-13, at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas.
The weeklong all-star competition pitted 14 six-man security forces teams from all U.S. Air Force major commands, Great Britain and Germany. Each of the entities were evaluated during dismounted operations, combat endurance relay and weapons competition.
“We may not have gotten first, but we came in here pretty positive we were going to place top three,” said Senior Airman Jeffrey Lewis, an ACC team member from Moody’s 822d Base Defense Squadron. “It’s an honor to place top two. It’s a great feeling for all of us.”
Back after a 14-year hiatus, the competition is an opportunity for Airmen to show what they are capable of, to build their skills and sharpen their tools.
“The Defender Challenge is about the camaraderie, the bragging rights and about bringing the esprit de corps back to the career field,” said Tech. Sgt. Alexis Rice, competition evaluator. “It’s a big tradition that’s been gone for the last 14 years. We can get back to the basics and bring back the challenge just to see who’s the best.”
Although it’s a team competition, each participant had to be on their “A-game” because the teams were graded as a group and individually. The competition this year was a close call according to the evaluators. Ultimately, Pacific Air Forces’ (PACAF) team reigned supreme and took home first place honors.
“I was hoping for it,” said 2nd Lt. Chelsey Hibsch, a PACAF team member. “I did not expect to see our name up on there. It’s pretty exciting and overwhelming.”
Throughout the challenges, a little friendly rivalry formed between the two MAJCOMs that propelled them to the top as Hibsch and Staff Sgt. Oscar Gomez, PACAF team member, knew Tech. Sgt. Matthew Heiser, ACC team member from a previous assignment.
“We talked with (ACC) a good bit about the competition,” said Hibsch, regarding the weeks leading up to the competition. “They are definitely tough guys. It was pretty cool to see Heiser and meet up with a strong team like them.”
For Lewis, he said he felt good about how the overall competition ended and wants to make an appearance at the next Defender Challenge in two years.
“Right now, I’m feeling pretty great about it,” Lewis said. “I want to come back and give it another shot. I have to defend second and place first next time, so I’ll definitely be back.”
Below is a full list of the 2018 Defender Challenge winners:
2018 DEFENDER CHALLENGE CHAMPIONS
1st: United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
2nd: Air Combat Command (ACC)
3rd: Air Force Materiel Command
1st: Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rodriguez, Air Force District of Washington
2nd: Senior Airman David Hightower, Air Education and Training Command
3rd: Airman 1st Class Curtis Covington, PACAF
Winner: Lance Cpl. Adam Butler, Royal Air Force Regiment
Nominated: Staff Sgt. Oscar Gomez, PACAF
Nominated: OR-6 Robin Schwab, German Air Force
1st: German Air Force
3rd: Air Mobility Command (AMC)
SADLER CUP (Dismounted Operations)
3rd: Air National Guard
COLEMAN CUP (Weapons Challenge)
3rd: Air Force Space Command