Marine Corps Air Station New River’s Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting division won first in the 26th Annual Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Rodeo on the station, May 20. Four teams came out to participate in the seven events that made up the rodeo.

“It was the first time at the rodeo in about five years and we took the win,” said Lance Cpl. Brendan Bowles, crash fire rescue fire fighter from the station.

Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort tied for second place. The tie was settled by a tug of war which MCALF Bogue won. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point took fourth place.

“This event is mainly for camaraderie and getting everyone together to be able to compete,” said Staff Sgt. Julius Bleske, ARFF captain at MCAS Cherry Point. “The ARFF community is a very small community so when you get the opportunity to get together it’s really nice because these guys work a lot of hours and don’t really get the chance to come out here and do things like this.”

The rodeo brought together Marines who hadn’t seen each other in some time and allowed them compete against each other in a friendly competition.

“When we had these other teams come out, we got to see some guys that we spent some time with at the schoolhouse that went to different duty stations,” said Bowles. “I got to see a friend that was my roommate at the schoolhouse and create a better bond together. It was a competition but it was a friendly competition.”

In the rodeo, they had a bunker gear, fireman’s carry, rescue saw cutting, jaws of life with air pack, hose drill, p-19 re-equip and a bucket brigade race. The teams spent months training for the event.

“We practiced every single day for about two months for about four hours each day,” said Bowles. “I’ve noticed just from practicing this rodeo every single day, my day to day skills have increased. From my practice with this, which I thought was just fun, now when I’m back at my daily routine I’m finding myself doing things better. I’m in better shape. I’m just doing things all around better than what I did before.”

Events like the rodeo increase morale, build readiness and build a sense of community between the Marines.

“We’re glad to win but we’re also just glad to see these guys come together and see how other duty stations are doing,” said Bowles.