CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan -- Sgt. Aenoi Luangxay, a squad leader with Combat Engineering Company, 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, recently won the outstanding squad leader award while participating in the 2nd annual Marine Corps Combat Engineer Sapper competition held in Camp Pendleton, California. Luangxay was one of four squad leaders to be in the running for the award.
“There were squad leaders from every combat assault battalion in the Marine Corps at the competition,” said Luangxay, a native of Atlanta, Georgia. “So, it was really competitive.”
The term "sapper" is a common term that is used by many military forces around the world. When used by the Marine Corps, the definition is stated as a Marine who uses cunning determination and skill to defeat enemy defenses and fortifications. A sapper’s job is to detect and disrupt possible enemy defense mechanisms, according to Luangxay.
The 2nd annual Marine Corps Combat Engineer Sapper competition is a four-day competition that tests battalions from all over the Marine Corps to see which combat assault battalion has the best squad of combat engineers. The competition consisted of shooting, land navigation, communications and mobility challenges that tested the squads’ ability to work together throughout the tough challenges, according to Luangxay.
“It was also a lot of defensive planning and breaching,” said Luangxay. “I guided my squad throughout the challenges and received an impact Navy and Marine Achievement Medal for being the most outstanding squad leader during the competition.
Luangxay and his squad finished third out fourth place but were still able to get a lot of great training from the competition, according to Luangxay.
Luangxay was chosen by Sapper instructors from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion to receive the award.
“I think these guys are some of the hardest working Marines in Okinawa, and I think this competition allowed that to show,” said 1st Sgt. Lucas Cotto, the company first sergeant for Combat Engineering Company, 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “He definitely learns from his Marines as much as they learn from him.”