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Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Nelson is not new to the grueling, physical and mental challenges of the Best Ranger Competition.
"I think it's the competitive nature in me, but most guys who compete in this competition are looking for something more," he said. "All of us volunteer to enter the military and all of us volunteer to go to Ranger School. We're always looking for something to push us to our limits."
Nelson, who has been with the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade for almost three years, competed in three previous competitions, winning the 2005 BRC with teammate Capt. Corbett McCallum.
Nelson is preparing to take on this year's event with a new competitor. Encouraged by his younger brother, Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Nelson, the two will compete together against 49 other teams of the world's best Soldiers for the 31st installment of the competition April 11-13. Events begin at 6 a.m. at Camp Rogers on Harmony Church, with 60 continuous hours of strenuous distance runs, foot marches, weapons assembly, obstacles courses and more.
David Nelson spent six years with the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., before becoming a pilot at Fort Rucker, Ala. He said this year was the perfect opportunity to compete, as both he and his brother prepare to retire within the next year.
"I had always admired my brother for doing the competition and I knew he had a good chance at winning it," he said. "Endurance hasn't always been my strength until we did a rucksack marathon in November and that's when I thought I could actually do this. The biggest thing is the unknown. I've never pushed myself beyond this point."
Gerald Nelson said he and his brother have juggled their work schedules with individual training and occasional opportunities to train together.
"Each year this competition changes a little, but I think this year's challenge is just making it into Day 2," he said. "I think we will be fine on the physical part, but with the hands-on we'll be at a disadvantage because we haven't been able to train together as much."
David Nelson said he plans to use his brother's guidance to tackle complicated tasks.
"I've tried to use his experiences to determine whether we need to slow down and when we need to push harder," David Nelson said. "I haven't had to put my hands on weapons in a long time. I go back over things I learned in Ranger School like knot tying, but it's the new equipment that I have to lean on him for."
Gerald Nelson said new spectators of the BRC will appreciate the dedication and commitment of Rangers and all Soldiers across the Army.
"They might be overwhelmed at how many miles these guys are putting in, because there is no quitting and they will push themselves to their complete limits," he said. "I think it would be interesting for them to see what some our Soldiers do. I think they should come out and see just what they're capable of."