U.S. Army Capt. Trevor Holbrooks of Statesboro recently graduated first in his class at the U.S. Army’s Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
The Sapper Leader Course is regarded as one of the toughest schools in the Army and graduates earn the right to wear the Sapper tab.
“Physically and academically, it (Sapper Leader Course) was difficult but doable,” Holbrooks said. “It is definitely doable if you put in the work ahead of time.”
Holbrooks is currently the company commander of Bravo Company, 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The Statesboro-based 177th Battalion and 48th Infantry Brigade is an organic engineer battalion that supports the brigade with assets for offensive, defensive, stability and defense support of civil authority operations.
The battalion contains two engineer companies each with Sapper platoons. A Sapper is a combat engineer trained in conducting military engineering under combat conditions. Sapper capabilities include breaching fortifications, clearing and laying minefields, demolitions, and construction and repair of roads, bridges, airfields and other key infrastructure in a deployed theatre.
The Sapper Leader Course was held in October and November and is a demanding 28-day leadership development course for combat engineers that reinforces critical skills and teaches advanced techniques. Instruction includes conventional and expedient demolitions, mountaineering and engineering under combat conditions.
Holbrooks’ class started with 64 students when the courses began on Oct. 29. However, only 21 Sappers completed the course, a graduation rate of 32.8% for Holbrooks’ cohort.
He attributed his success in the course to his past training and experience
Holbrooks was commissioned from the University of North Georgia in 2016, where he was a distinguished military graduate. While attending UNG, he served in the Georgia Army National Guard as a cannon crewmember assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
Holbrooks deployed to Afghanistan from December 2018 to September 2019 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as a platoon leader with the Glennville-based Alpha Company, 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard. A year later, Holbrooks participated in exercise Noble Partner 20 in the country of Georgia as the executive officer of Alpha Company.
In a release, the Army said that by earning his Sapper tab and graduating first in his class, Holbrooks demonstrated leadership through example. He returns to Bravo Company not only with advanced skills taught at Sapper Leader Course, but also the presence to motivate and lead combat engineers under his command, the Army said.
“One of the main driving factors of me going to Sapper school was to make it more attainable in the soldier’s eye,” Holbrooks said. “I wanted to give soldiers someone that they knew in their formation that they can talk to, that had been there and done it, and make it a little more feasible for them.”
Holbrooks and the 177th Battalion’s training will be tested in June 2022 when the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team attends an eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation at Fort Stewart in Hinesville. The 48th completed a XCTC rotation in 2017, in which Holbrooks also participated.
“(The 2017 rotation) brought a lot of positive operational procedures to the unit as well as helped us build SOPs (standard operating procedures),” Holbrooks said. “We still see some of those SOPs still around in the unit today.”