DEVENS, Mass. - Saturday marked the closing series of the regular season for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox faced their long time nemesis the New York Yankees. Their rivalry spans back to the beginning of the 20th century, but another competition took place Saturday afternoon between two rivals that can trace their contest back even further.
The 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, and the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Army National Guard, met at a range here, to rekindle a long standing tradition; the Logan-Duffy Rifle Competition.
The competition’s origins go back to the start of the Civil War, said 1st Sgt. Julian B. Alfonso (Ret.),1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment. When in 1861 the commanders of the, then 9th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the 69th met at Fort Corcoran, Arlington, Virginia.
After meeting there the two regiments created a lasting relationship, said Alfonso. Then in 1936 the commander’s of the 101st Infantry, descendants of the 9th, and the 165th Infantry, descendents of the 69th, decided to hold an annual rifle contest in order to promote competitive marksmanship.
“It was named for the two commanders’,” said Alfonso. “There was Gen. Logan of the101st and Gen. Duffy of the 165th.”
This year’s competition is the first time in the past 10 years that the event has taken place between the two guard units, said Alfonso. There was a match in 2004 that took place between the two veteran fire teams, where the 69th won and brought the prize back to New York.
It is important to bring back an event that has been pushed aside for so long.
“Something that we remain committed too, Col. Stewart and I, is the Logan-Duffy Competition,” said Lt. Col. John C. Andonie, Commander of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment. “We wanted to bring back this tradition that was literally dying out of mind. So we both made a commitment and said we’re going to make this happen.”
Additionally, continuing the event is making sure that the tradition lives on.
“What’s truly important about today’s event is the tremendous tradition that it carries,” said Lt. Col. Thomas M. Stewart Battalion, commander, 1st Battalion, 182 Infantry. “It’s important because the member’s of this regiment before me that have put so much of their own heart and soul into this to make it happen year after year after year, that I feel like I would be dropping the ball.”
It’s important to preserve history, said Andonie. The 69th and the 182nd have tremendous lineages and investments must be made in order to preserve that tradition.
“I had some big boots to fill,” said Staff Sgt. Terrence J. McGhee, A Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment. “That the soldiers that have come before me did an outstanding job making the unit what it is today and I feel obligated to carrying on the tradition and what it meant to them.”
“I’m a former Marine and the Marine Corps is always steeped in tradition,” said Ret. 1st Sgt. Charles M. Metzger, (Ret.),C Company, 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment,. “When I came to the guard I wanted to make sure that my soldier’s understood that and there was no better way to do that than with the rifleman’s competition.”
Furthermore, the tradition that is involved builds a strong camaraderie.
“Between May and now, meeting these guys from the 69th and having dealt with them over the phone, through e-mails and then finally doing the recon with them, as well as spending last night with them, I feel that there is no differences between us and them,” said Stewart. “We’re pretty tight.”
The two units are some of the oldest in the Army and that tradition, on top of this competition, creates a unique camaraderie, said Staff Sgt. Brandon L. Williams, senior sniper, Headquarters Company, 182nd Infantry.
The camaraderie is built on a healthy rivalry, McGhee said.
Standing together at a briefing before the start of the competition, telling the difference between the teams is difficult. Except for the unit patches and the occasional joke made about the other states favorite baseball team. The Commander of the 182nd summed it up best when he briefed the two teams. He spoke of a strong bond that has to be rekindled. “What I want to say is that there is a passion that I found while working with the 69th,” said Stewart. “I would have no problem standing next to you soldiers, as our ancestors did, on the field of battle.”The day’s competition concluded with the 69th narrowly defeating the 182nd by a score of 953- 938, a difference of 15 points or two shots.