Marines from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, claimed the title as best tank crew in the Marine Corps for 2012 by placing first in the 10th annual Tiger Competition aboard Camp Lejeune Sept. 27.
The crew consisting of Sgt. Linh Ngo, tank commander; Cpl. Ryan Hanna, gunner; Lance Cpl. Delio Linares, loader; and Lance Cpl. Domenic Kalaski, driver; defeated crews from 1st Tank Battalion and 4th Tank Battalion to win the tournament and capture the Gunnery Sergeant Robert H. McCard Cup for 2012. The victory put an exclamation point on a successful year of training for the crew from 2nd Tanks, who qualified for competition by achieving the battalion’s highest score during a gunnery shoot earlier in the year. The crews from 1st and 4th Tanks also qualified for competition by being the high shooters for their respective battalions.
“These Marines are the best shooters from 1st Tank Battalion, 2nd Tank Battalion and 4th Tank Battalion,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Formella, who is the master gunner instructor liaison at Marine Corps detachment Fort Benning, Ga., and was also one of three official scorers for the event. “I’ve never been in their shoes, but it’s a goal as a tanker to make it to the Tiger Comp., win that trophy and claim, ‘we’re the best tank crew in the Marine Corps.’”
Ngo was proud of his crew’s performance during the competition.
“I was nervous (coming in) because this is a big competition,” said Ngo. “But everyone did an outstanding job.”
The crew from 2nd Tank Battalion trained daily two weeks prior to the tournament, working many hours with senior enlisted personnel from the battalion to ensure they performed well during the competition, explained Ngo.
“The guys who helped us for this competition are Staff Sergeant Robert King and Gunny (Steven P.) Sigafose,” said Ngo. “Before we came out here, Staff Sergeant King came off leave to help us train. Gunny Sigafose, the battalion (master gunner), pretty much gave us one-on-one coaching …, critiquing us, like every little thing. He’d critique us to the point where (we) were almost perfect.”
A crew from 2nd Tank Battalion also won the McCard Cup during the 2011 Tiger Competition in Boise, Idaho. With this victory, 2nd Tanks maintains possession of the trophy for at least another year.
“This means a lot to me because the battalion gets to keep the trophy, and our crew got a big win before I get out of the Marine Corps,” said Linares.
Before being presented the McCard Cup, each member of the winning tank crew received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in recognition of their dedication. With their victory in the competition, the crew’s countless hours of training, preparation and repetition ultimately paid dividends.
“The tanker community in the Marine Corps is very small,” said Kalaski. “Word travels fast, and to qualify and then actually win the Tiger Comp. is a really big deal. It’s a great honor for the battalion.”
Article by Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde, 2nd Marine Division