Killian, Friedlein prevail in Army's Best Ranger competition

by Larry Gierer
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

COLUMBUS, Ga. (Tribune News Service) — The frustration is over for Capt. Robert Killian.

On the second place team the last two years in the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition, Killian was on the winning one Sunday.

Representing the National Guard, he and fellow Army reservist Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein captured the three-day event at Fort Benning which began with 50 teams and finished with 23.

The two began training at Fort Benning in January.

Killian lives in Colorado and Friedlein in Pennsylvania.

The team clinched the top spot after a strong showing overnight which included the Darby Queen obstacle course, water confidence course and the buddy run.

The two were able to push out 1st Sgt. David Floutier and Staff Sgt. Joshua Rolfes of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

In third place was the Maneuver Center of Excellence team of Capt. Michael Blanchard and Capt. Brian Slamkowski.

Killian’s sister Megan Truett was on hand to watch him compete just as she has in years past.

She came to Fort Benning from Myrtle Beach, S.C. to do so.

Asked if her brother’s past disappointments were frustrating to him, she replied, “very much so.”

She said he was very determined to finish on top this year.

“He is very focused,” she said, as she waited for him to finish the buddy run.

She said the graduate of The Citadel has accomplished a lot in his career and he just needed this victory to make everything complete.

The 34-year-old world class endurance athlete was hoping his experience would give him an edge this year.

“I am hoping a big thing that will give me an advantage over other competitors is my overall knowledge. The more times you do it, you develop techniques that get you faster,” he said in an interview earlier this week.

Friedlein, 31, has also competed before. His best finish was 11th.

Among the spectators was Russ McKinney who came from Lakeland, Fla. to see his nephew Sgt. 1st Class Troy Conrad compete. Conrad and Capt. Jose Moreno were a National Guard team.

He said Conrad’s family in Pennsylvania was watching on the Internet.

As he sat near the finish line of the buddy run, McKinney held an old cowbell.

“He may not be able to see me watching him compete but he can sure hear the bell,” said the retired truck driver.”

In fact, he said Conrad’s relatives at home have been able to hear the bell on the broadcast.

“Troy competed last year but was eliminated early,” McKinney said. “He was determined to do well this year.”

©2016 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)
Visit the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.) at
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