Two staff sergeants assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron were awarded the title of Department of Defense "Best Combat Camera Team" at the 3rd Annual Spc. Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition July 17, 2015, at Ft. Meade, Md.
Staff Sgt. Steven Witt, 1st CTCS combat broadcaster, and Staff Sgt. Samuel Weaver, 1st CTCS combat cyber transportation specialist and photographer, finished in first place after a rigorous week-long event hosted by the U.S Army 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) designed to test the technical and tactical skills of 12 visual information teams.
“The competition was fierce, and I'm happy to see our Airmen bring home the hardware the first year this competition was open to us,” said Mike Caldwell, deputy director of Air Force Public Affairs. "Congratulations to Sam and Steven on being named the 'Best Combat Camera Team’ in DOD!”
Along with representatives from 1st CTCS and 55th Signal Company, the competing teams were comprised of combat cameramen from the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron, U.S. Army 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airborne) and the Navy Expeditionary Combat Camera Reserve.
U.S. Army Maj. Stewart Brown, 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) commander, said events that allow combat to interact with each other and see how their peers operate in is very important.
“First, many of the missions COMCAM folks execute are joint missions comprised of multi-service COMCAM elements,” he said. “We have to be interoperable because at the end of the day, we are all customer oriented organizations and we have many of the same customers. Second, it's great to be exposed in a training environment to see the capabilities of each of the individual services. Finally, I also think it breeds good, clean, healthy competition, and competition forces everyone out of their comfort zone, which is where true progress is made."
Two-person teams were required to complete in eight events which included a seven-mile ruck march, an M4 carbine qualification round and an obstacle course. The teams were also required to submit products created with images and video they captured throughout the competition.
“The competition overall felt challenging and worthwhile, which made it one of the best experiences I've had so far in my career,” Witt said. “Having Weaver as my partner made things a lot easier because I knew he was physically and mentally ready to win, and I used that as motivation to push myself past the harder parts of the competition.”
The competition was held in honor of U.S. Army Spc. Hilda Clayton, a combat photographer assigned to the 55th Signal Company, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2, 2013, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The competition started of as an internal event for the 55th Signal Company and was renamed to keep her memory alive.
“She was a very competitive individual who loved Soldiering, team sports, and pushing herself to the limits,” Brown said. “She excelled in everything she attempted, and that pushes others to do the same.”
“Each year, the Specialist Hilda I. Clayton Best COMCAM Competition allows us all to reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen and the serious business that is our profession as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines," he continued.
While honoring the fallen, combat cameramen were able to test their will, their knowledge and the skills they hone when training with their units in their home stations.
“I'm confident our shooters have the mental and physical strength, ability and stamina to compete with the very best, both deployed and at home,” said Maj. David Faggard, 1st CTCS commander. “Combat Camera, DoD wide, prides itself on our robust training program; however, it's the can-do, never give up attitude of this team that propelled them into the lead.”