LATHAM, N.Y. (WETM) – Ten New York Army National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will travel to South Africa later this month to participate in the South African Military Skills Competition being held Oct. 21 to 26.
The five Soldiers and five Airmen will participate alongside representatives of European and African nations. They come from Army and Air Guard units located across the state.
The competition involves rifle and pistol shooting, negotiating land and water obstacles, hand grenade throwing and a 4.8 mile run in military uniform. The Americans will be firing the South African R4 rifle and Z88 pistol instead of the weapons they normally use.
Each team consists of four members and a coach.
The New York National Guard has had a training and exchange partnership with the South African National Defence Force since 2003.
The relationship is part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program which pairs state National Guards with the military forces of other nations. The program is designed to build useful military relationships.
In 2018 the New York National Guard sent a contingent of Army National Guard Military Police Soldiers and Air National Guard Security Force Airmen to South Africa. Other exchanges have involved firefighters, general officer visits, and participation in the South African Airshow held every two years.
New York National Guard soldiers last competed in the South African Department of Defence Military Skills competition in 2010.
The New York National Guard participants are:
• Command Sergeant Major Mark Maynard, the Army National Guard team coach, who is a Spencerport resident and is assigned to the 106th Regional Training Institute at Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill;
• Master Sgt. Cole Shebat, the Air National Guard coach, who is a Cicero resident and a member of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse;
• Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Martin Cozens, a Rochester resident assigned to Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry in Geneseo;
• Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Brendon Mavra, a Mohegan Lake resident, who serves with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry in Farmingdale;
• Army National Guard Sgt. Jonathan Patton, a New York City resident who serves in Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry which drills at the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan;
• Army National Guard Sgt. Zachary Rodak, a Peekskill resident, who is assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry based at Camp Smith Training Site in Cortlandt Manor;
• Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Thomas Perry, a Trumansburg resident, assigned to the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse;
• Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Martin Allen, a Middle Grove resident, assigned to the 109th Security Forces Squadron at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia;
• Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Joshua Kueritzky, a Kingston resident who serves in the 105th Base Defense Squadron, at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh;
• Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Justin Murphy, a Bergenfield, New Jersey resident who is assigned to the 105th Base Defense Squadron, at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.
The Soldiers and Airmen were selected to participate in the South African event based on their accomplishments and training.