WEST POINT, Va. –
Staff Sgt. Steven Moniuszko was recognized in front of his unit, the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, Oct. 16, 2022, in West Point, Virginia, after graduating from the U.S. Army’s Sapper Leader Course and earning the coveted Sapper Tab.
“We’re just really proud of Staff Sgt. Moniuszko and what he was able to accomplish,” said Lt. Col. Joseph M. Fleishman, commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion. “We used to have a lot of Soldiers who were Sapper-qualified who have since moved on. We’re looking to rebuild that skill set within the formation. We have a lot of troops in the pipeline going through and Staff Sgt. Moniuszko is the spearhead of that effort.”
Moniuszko said it was at Basic Combat Training when he knew he wanted to attend the Sapper Leader Course. “Some of my drill sergeants had the Army Sapper Tab and I was like ‘What’s that?’” he said. “It was pretty and shiny and looked cool. Ever since I learned about the course, it became my goal.”
Designed to produce the top leading combat engineers specializing in all facets of mobility, counter mobility and survivability, the Sapper Leader Course is a 28-day course that teaches mountaineering, demolitions, airborne and water operations and other engineering skills.
Moniuszko connected with other Sapper Leader Course graduates and relied on them for advice on how to best prepare himself for the challenges of the course.
“I practiced knots, ruck marches and runs,” he said. “Anything that would be testable I went over to confirm I had a better understanding.”
In the immediate months before departing for the course, Moniuszko said he pushed himself and focused on endurance training. He knew his first challenge would be conquering the Sapper Physical Fitness Test, or SPFT, which consists of hand-release pushups, leg tucks and a three-mile run.
“I’m not a runner,” he said. “That was my only goal, get there on day zero, pass the SPFT and see what happens.”
Moniuszko wasn’t sure how many Soldiers started the SPFT, but he was one of 49 to meet the standard. Of those, only 11 went on to graduate Sapper Leader Course.
“This school is unique because people go in there already knowing that they need help from everyone,” he said. “On day one, after the [SPFT], we learned each other’s names and started clicking. It was amazing. You don’t earn your tab; the other guys earn the tab for you. Everyone is a battle buddy. The only way you will pass is if they are right there picking you up."
His favorite phase during the course was the patrolling phase.
“It’s probably the worst phase, but I liked it,” he said. “It's two weeks long, no showers and very daunting. You’re sleep-deprived and running missions for about eight days out of the two weeks. You don’t realize your full potential until after you complete the phases.”
As a combat engineer, Moniuszko said he came back with a solid knowledge of what he should already know, but in a more condensed and accurate way.
“It’s about maintaining that basic common engineering knowledge that we are all taught,” he said. “I left with leadership skills that I probably would not have developed in a normal drilling status; I enjoyed the course.”
Moniuszko said that now that he’s achieved this goal, he has his sights set on attending the Army Mountain Warfare School in January.
“Nothing is unattainable,” he said.