FORT HOOD, Texas --
The 3d Combat Weather Squadron held its inaugural Staff Weather Officer (SWO) Rodeo, “SWODEO”, competition, June 29 - July 1, to identify the best SWO team in the unit.
Six teams comprised of Airmen from across the three Combat Weather Squadron’s headquarters, detachments and operating locations took on 11 events that assessed their technical proficiency, tactical competency and physical ability. During the three-day competition, SWOs were tested on limited data forecasting, tactical weather sensor operations, weather observations, M4 Carbine rifle functionality and accuracy, tactical combat casualty care, radio operations, land navigation, obstacle courses, stress run/ruck marches and weather forecasting/operations knowledge.
Competition was fierce as bragging rights amongst the squadron’s geographically separated units (GSUs) were on the line.
“SWODEO was a good way for teams to see how we stack up throughout the squadron,” said Tech. Sgt. Terrance Schalin, Team 3 member and Detachment 3 SWO. “Everyone here is the most experienced and skilled the 3 CWS has to offer.”
Through teamwork and sustained superior performance throughout the event, Team 2 consisting of Staff Sgt. Damian Burke and Staff Sgt. Matthew Carlson, Headquarters SWOs, were named SWODEO winners and earned the unofficial title of “Best SWO Team.”
“Matt and I complimented each other well and leveraged each other’s strengths,” said Staff Sgt. Burke. “I’ve been assigned to the 3 CWS for 5.5 years and PCS soon, so competing in SWODEO was a great way to assess what I’ve learned along the way and served as a culmination to my time as a SWO.”
While SWODEO was a fun and exhausting experience for the competitors, it was also an opportunity to meet other members of the squadron, share ideas, and build some comradery.
“SWODEO was significant because for the first time since the pandemic, seven of our nine GSUs were able to come together,” said Lt. Col. Danele Richardson, 3 CWS Commander. “In this community we often meet in deployed environments as two to three forecaster teams embedded with Army units. This event finally gave us an avenue to meet across all ranks, put faces to names we often only see in emails and provide some hope that we are beginning to recover from the pandemic.”
In addition to bolstering 3 CWS esprit de corps, SWODEO also served as a proof of concept for this fall’s inaugural Thunder Challenge, which will pit teams from Combat Weather Squadrons across the globe and select Air National Guard Weather Flights in a week-long competition to determine the top SWO team in the whole Air Force.