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International military competition lures two Reserve pilots

Maj. Mike Masuda, C-17 pilot with the 313th Airlift Squadron, poses for a photo while qualifiying for Team USA Military last year at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Vermont. Masuda made the team and subsequently won the gold medal in the novice category of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers, or CIOR, Military Competition. He will compete in the experienced category of the military pentathlon competition this year Aug. 3-9 in Shumen, Bulgaria.

Maj. Mike Masuda, C-17 pilot with the 313th Airlift Squadron, poses for a photo while qualifiying for Team USA Military last year at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Vermont. Masuda made the team and subsequently won the gold medal in the novice category of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers, or CIOR, Military Competition. He will compete in the experienced category of the military pentathlon competition this year Aug. 3-9 in Shumen, Bulgaria.

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Two McChord Citizen Airmen look to compete for the gold in Shumen, Bulgaria, during an international military pentathlon competition hosted by Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers, or CIOR,  Aug. 3-9.

Maj. Peter Grossenbach, C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 728th Airlift Squadron, and Maj. Mike Masuda, C-17 pilot with the 313th Airlift Squadron, will first attend skills training with Team USA Military before competing in the CIOR Military Competition, designed specifically for reserve servicemembers around the world.

The pentathlon consists of: pistol shooting, rifle shooting, 500-meter land obstacle course, 50-meter water obstacle course, and up to a 15-kilometer orienteering, or land-navigation, event that also encompasses combat first aid. According to the CIOR Web site, the competition spans "across 36 participating nations within and beyond NATO."

"This is hands-down the best challenge and military skills improvement program in the Armed Forces Reserve," said Col. Joel Winton, commander of 150th Air Operations Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and former head coach and chief of delegations for Team USA Military.

The competition is slated for three days in Bulgaria, and each team is comprised of three individuals. However, competitors arrive a few days early for practice rounds and for opportunities to learn about other reserve programs, which supports CIOR's role to foster professional development. In the event that a military competition team does not have enough individuals, nations may combine members to form a three-person international team, Winton explained.

"It is a very valid program," Masuda said. "Other countries have reservists, but they do different things; they have different programs. And so, we learn about their reserve programs, and we learn how we can integrate in the future, potentially. The CIOR Military Competition is just the venue to facilitate that cross-talk."

American competitors, both male and female, must first apply for the team through the teamusamilitary.org Web site. In addition to being a Department of Defense Reserve or Guard member, applicants must provide personal statistics in the following areas: 800-meter and 5-mile run times, 50-meter swim time, amount of push-ups and sit-ups in 2 minutes, and max number of pull-ups. They also provide a summary of their orienteering and marksmanship capabilities. Winton now screens the online applications. He reviewed Grossenbach's application and said, "We're quite happy to have him."

"I started thinking about my numbers, and those are some of my strong points," Grossenbach said. "I also taught survival at the [Air Force Academy]. That was a long time ago, but I think I have a good sense of direction."

Coincidentally, Grossenbach and Masuda both graduated from the academy in 2001. They served on active duty with McChord's 62nd Airlift Wing prior to transitioning into the Air Force Reserve. In 2006, the alumni ran into each other again, or rather, alongside one another while training for marathons. Grossenbach is now an assistant operations officer, Air Reserve Technician, with the 728th AS. Masuda is a traditional reserve pilot who is also a first officer with Delta Air Lines. Masuda, who competed in the CIOR Military Competition and won a gold medal in the novice category last year, will compete on an experienced team this year.

"I'll just go right to the competition this year, more or less," Masuda said. He explained that he will first join his team at a training camp in Weiner Neustadt, Austria, to get acclimated to the European time zone one week prior to the start of the competition.

Grossenbach left for Burlington, Vermont, to attend the Team USA Military training camp that runs July 12-25. Here, he will undergo various training exercises to qualify for Team USA Military, novice category. If he qualifies, he will continue on to Austria, where the rest of Team USA Military will train within their respective categories.

Masuda has been competing in triathlons since 2007, and says the CIOR Military Competition "fits in line" with his triathlon training. He accomplishes various physical workouts for 1 to 3 hours each day.

"I've always taken fitness seriously because I'm always doing it; it's my hobby. It just made sense to me to try," Masuda said, regarding his interest in competing. "It's like having my cake and it eating it, too."