Wounded Warrior turns injury into strength for military competition

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FORT LEONARD WOOD (KTVI) - A St. Charles man is turning a battlefield injury into a personal triumph. Captain Logan Phillips almost lost his life in Afghanistan. He’s now fully recovered, and next week he will compete here in the international Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood.  His partner in the competition is Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Reid.  Reid described what a sapper is, “They’re the toughest people you’re going to find in the military.”

Both men are working hard these days to be in shape for the big event. Four years ago Captain Phillips was seriously injured in a mortar attack.  He said, “I dove to the ground and the explosion ruptured some things in my back.”

His back was broken and he remained hospitalized two months after spinal surgery.  Sgt. Reid said, “A lot of guys will come back from an injury and not perform at a higher level than before they got injured.”

He said his teammate has achieved that higher level.  The injury is in the past the sapper competition is on the horizon.  Captain Phillips described the event like this, “It’s supposed to be pretty tough. The tag line is fifty hours, fifty miles and fifty teams getting through it.”

Two-member teams endure three grueling days with only a few hours sleep. The challenges occur day and night. They take part in a variety of exercises they would experience as combat engineers on the battlefield.  Capt. Phillips said, “…testing your mental toughness your physical toughness.”   Sgt. Reid added, “It’s brutal it’s rough some of the roughest stuff they’ve done by the end you’re just exhausted.”

They prepare up until the last minute wearing 35 pound vests and doing pull ups or running with a chunk of a telephone pole that weighs several hundred pounds.  They’re determined to win.

Capt. Phillips said, “Me and Sgt. Reid are about the toughest team you’re going to find out there.”

The competition gets underway next week at Fort Leonard Wood.