Air Force CTCS’s win DoD combat camera titles

  • Published
  • By Maj. Zachary Anderson
  • 4th Combat Camera Squadron
Teams from Joint Base Charleston’s Combat Camera Total Force Initiative squadrons took two of the top three placings at the 2018 Specialist Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition. Four teams of two from the active duty 1st Combat Camera Squadron and the reserve 4 CTCS participated in the competition at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland, and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, April 29-May 4, 2018.

For the second year straight the Air Force’s 1st Combat Camera Squadron owns the title of the best combat camera team in the Defense Department.

Senior Airman Maygan Straight and Airman 1st Class Franklin Harris, of 1st CTCS, were the winning team in this year’s competition. This marks the third time in four years a team from the 1st CTCS has won the annual event.

“This was my second time competing,” said Harris. “The first time I competed I was fresh from tech school and was unsure of my technical and tactical capabilities. Everything was new. After being in the squadron for a year, this time I knew what to expect and I was confident in my abilities. I believed in my training and in my teammate. We were playing the long game and I knew we did well. I just didn’t know we did that well. When there is a competition that tests your technical and tactical capabilities having someone tell you, you are the best, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.”

“It was a very tough competition,” said Straight. “This was my first time competing and I knew a lot of the winners and cameramen who had placed in the past years. They’re the best of the best, so it was very intimidating going into it. But, the training we’d received from the squadron over the years prepared us to be competitive and we really melded as a team. We were up against some tough, experienced teams that I had a lot of respect and admiration for. It was a great opportunity to test ourselves against them. It's an amazing feeling to win the competition and represent the squadron.”

Lt. Col. Christopher Anderson, 1st CTCS commander, said he was proud of how the teams from the Air Force performed.

"This competition is unique in that it provides an opportunity for our reserve and active duty combat camera Airmen to compete alongside each other as well as with combat camera personnel from other services,” said Anderson. “This competition fosters cohesion among talented professionals who will likely serve together in a joint environment. I'm personally very proud of the Airmen from the 1st and 4th Combat Camera Squadrons who took part in this competition. They all trained hard to prepare, and all of them pushed through the challenges of the week to complete the event. Senior Airman Straight and Airman 1st Class Harris did a tremendous job and I congratulate them on winning this year's competition."

Tech. Sgt. Tommy Grimes and Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg, of the Air Force Reserve’s 4th CTCS, finished in third place. Grimes and Lundborg were the only reserve component service members in the competition.

“I had never participated in anything like this before and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Grimes. “It turned out to be a tremendous experience. I enjoyed competing alongside my active duty counterparts as well as our joint-service partners from the Army. I learned a lot from this competition and it will help make me a better combat camera Airman.”

“I had heard of this competition and was very happy to have the opportunity to be a part of it this year,” said Lundborg. “This event is definitely a challenge; nothing about it is easy. It was great to see all the competitors going hard all week long, pushing their limits and cheering each other on. I look forward to competing again next year.”

Lt. Col. Hamilton Underwood, 4th CTCS commander, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the team from 4th CTCS.

“This is a great competition; it allows for active and reserve combat camera service members to compete with one another while building relationships and sharing best practices. Throughout the week, Airmen from the 1st and 4th Combat Camera Squadrons were able to compete and work with individuals they’ll be serving alongside on future real-world missions,” said Underwood. “Tech. Sgt. Grimes and Staff Sgt. Lundborg served as a great representation of the 4th Combat Camera Squadron and the Air Force Reserve. They are the first team from 4th CTCS to complete this competition since the squadron was reactivated just over a year ago. They kept competing all week long, never stopped moving forward, and never quit. I couldn’t be prouder of these two Airmen.”

The annual competition is open to all branches of the military and hosted by the Army’s 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera). Throughout the week-long competition, teams of two competed in events that assessed the technical and tactical skills of combat camera service members. These included a timed workout, a visual information knowledge exam, an obstacle course, stress-shooting, tactical/medical lanes, and a ruck march as well as daily imagery turn in requirements and a final video product.

The SPC Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition was established in 2013 to honor fallen Combat Camera Soldier, Spec. Hilda Clayton, who gave her life July 2, 2013 in Afghanistan while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.