RECON Challenge 2015


There are challenges in life. And then there is the RECON Challenge. The 7th annual version of this marathon event was just held at the United States Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Combining swimming, shooting, and a whole lot of hiking, the RECON Challenge is a one-day training competition not for the faint of heart, physically or mentally.

The grueling event is hosted by the Camp Pendleton Commanding Officer and the Instructor Staff of the Reconnaissance Training Company, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, and School of Infantry (WEST). Its starting point was San Onofre Beach in San Clemente, California. It finished at SOI.

2015 RECON Challenge

22 two-man teams of Reconnaissance and SARC Corpsman participated. It is open to all officers and enlisted who are graduates of the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC) and the Amphibious Reconnaissance School (ARS) who are active and reserve status. This also includes those from sister services and foreign competitors who have graduated from the BRC or ARS.


They began the competition at 4:00 a.m. with an open water swim with full combat equipment. Competitors strapped on 60+pound rucksacks and jumped into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. This was not just any spot, but right by the world famous Trestles surfing destination. Thus, you have 8-foot swells to battle in making it 1,000 meters out to a buoy and another 1,000 meters back to shore.

From tough to tougher.

The RECON Challenge then takes the competitors through a series of events on an obstacle course spanning 25.9 miles. It’s not just the distance for hiking and running with 60+pound rucksacks and a rifle which is a challenge. The terrain is the rugged “Alpha Shelf” mountain region of MCB Camp Pendleton.


Here’s more of the “fun” events for competitors in the RECON Challenge:

Observation and memorization contest.

Map work and navigation test.

Radio and communication test.

Fireman’s Carry test.

Knot-tying test.

Live firing range.


  • “The Tiring Tire.” How would you and a partner like to take on a massive tire? Swim 100 meters. Flip the tire into the pool. Push the tire to the deep end of the pool. Sink the tire to the bottom of the 15-foot pool. Swim to the bottom of the pool, and somehow manage to get the tire back to the surface. Then, lift the tire, now full of water, out of the pool.
  • “Weapons of Mass Assembly.” How would you and a partner like to do a marathon which features the dis-assembly and re-assembly of a 1911, M4, a myriad of machine guns and many other weapons?

Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher May sums it up perfectly. “It comes down to knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing how to exploit them when you need, and just keep pushing forward,” he said.

The winning team of Master Sgt. David Jarvis and Capt. Patrick Zuber from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion won the 2015 RECON Challenge in a stunning time of 8 hours and 35 minutes. Their margin of victory was 49 minutes.

The event benefits the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation which supports the morale and welfare of those in the RECON community. Each team dedicated their participation in honor of a RECON Marine or sailor killed in action. Thus, keeping alive the brotherhood of the RECON Marines.

AWC Inc. Sponsors 2015 RECON Challenge


Photo: (Jon ZumMallen – left, U.S. Marine High Shooter for event – center, Bryce Stirlen – right).

Jon ZumMallen is the Vice-President of Manufacturing, and Research and Development at AWC Inc. Jon spent roughly six years as a RECON Marine and Scout Sniper. He served 2 tours of duty in Iraq, another in Afghanistan, and served at Camp Pendleton as an Instructor at the Pre-Scout Sniper Course.

Jon and AWC Inc. CEO Bryce Stirlen were proud to award two Build a Rifle kits to the high shooter teams of the 2015 RECON Challenge competition. “For me, being in one of the more aggressive units like RECON, there is a real sense of brotherhood, but when you get out you lose it,” says Jon ZumMallen. “When you do things like this and donate, it gives you a chance to help out and be back with people you know and taught and who taught you. So, it’s good to give back and get back with the RECON community.”


Being There for Brayden McJilton, Son of Fallen U.S. Marine


Sometimes giving is easy. Sometimes it is not. Giving from the heart stirs a bunch of emotions. The AWC fundraiser this Saturday, May 16, 2015, for little Brayden McJilton, son of a fallen Marine from Camp Pendleton, is filled with emotion.



Josh McJilton was a brave hero. The 27-year old knew he was unarmed in a parking lot in his hometown of Wauseon, Ohio. He knew he was saving a woman from a man with a loaded gun. He intervened anyway. In his final act on April 25, 2015, Josh lived and died like a U.S. Marine. One day, 3-year old Brayden McJilton will understand what his Mommy Lydia knows. His Daddy did a courageous thing in sacrificing his life for someone else. From that moment on, Brayden will have pride to help fill in where there is only the pain of loss.


It is infuriating the alleged perpetrator, Romualdo Cordoba, Jr. stalked his estranged wife and mother of their children, and shot a good Samaritan stranger, Josh McJilton.

It’s too bad the bad guy had a gun. If only the good guy did. The wrong guy died, and now heartbroken loved ones have to live with it. At least now, the U.S. Marshals have captured him. He was just caught in Texas crying to cross his way into Mexico.


Photo: Romualdo Cordoba, Jr. – Just Captured by U.S. Marshals



A scheduled AWC Customer Appreciation Day set for May 16, 2015 has been set aside. Now a sale and charitable benefit for little Brayden McJilton is in place from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the AWC, Inc. facility located at 2420 Industry Street, Oceanside, CA 92054.

AWC is a veteran-driven company. People are planning and preparing to make the event a success. If you can attend, you’ll enjoy free food and drink, and meet other quality, caring people. Plus, there will be plenty of great firearm and tactical gear products at great prices with a portion of proceeds going to this great cause.

A number of AWC team members have stepped up for the benefit event for Brayden McJilton to happen. For example:

One U.S. Marine actually asked his wife to change the date of their first baby shower so he could play a key role in the benefit. She graciously agreed. He and a colleague have dedicated many hours of effort in customizing and refurbishing a Marine Corps Field Desk/Shooting Table to be donated as the main prize. It has a $1500 value.

CEO Bryce Stirlen postponed a trip home to Chicago to be with his family.  Proof, people today do still care about helping others in need.


We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, May 16th, from 9:00 to 3:00 at the AWC location at 2420 Industry Street in Oceanside. If not, making any kind of donation to the cause would be greatly appreciated. 100% of all donations will go to 3-year old Brayden McJilton.

Finally, we hope you will be kind enough to share news of the event with others in the Southern California region. Cut and paste a link, email it to friends and family if you can.

AWC, Inc. thanks you. Josh’s family will surely thank you, too. Let’s help to turn things around for little Brayden McJilton by showing him the joys of giving.