By Sara Belsole
FORT BENNING, GA - Friends and family gathered Monday morning to honor the best of the best: the two-man teams who completed the 30th Best Ranger Competition.
But it was SSF Raymond Santiago and SSF Timothy Briggs representing the Ranger Training Brigade who won the grueling 60 hour event.
"I am so so happy, it feels great," Santiago says.
49 teams started the competition, but only 24 crossed the finish line. And Briggs and Santiago are the first Benning team to win the competition since 2009.
"Pride, you almost felt like the host, especially when we repelled out of the helicopter last night it really brought it home that this was our house," Briggs says.
"I wanted to win and represent my unit and Fort Benning and I finally did," Santiago says.
Former Secretary of State, Retired General Colin Powell spoke at the awards ceremony, reminding the audience that despite his diplomatic service, he is a Ranger at heart.
"My whole experience of 50 odd years in leadership and management, what I practiced is what I learned right here at the Infantry School at Fort Benning. I still remember driving on post and seeing the motto follow me," Powell says.
Powell also showed off that Ranger sense of humor, "I still remember as I reached into my pocket to get an imaginary quarter to put in the imaginary coke machine and right as I was supposed to get my imaginary coke they said move out."
Briggs and Santiago say it was that kind of humor that got them through the race.
"The humor was kind of our trademark throughout the competition. Pretty much there wasn't a day that didn't start with a humorous comment," Briggs says.
This was the fourth Best Ranger Competition for Santiago and Brigg's first.
"I was the rookie, I was the private out there and there were times when I would get down and inside my head and he would say don't get down let's go we are still in it," Briggs says.
And the pair says they will be in it again for next year's competition.
All of the seven teams representing the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning finished in the top ten.
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