FORT RILEY — Lt. Col. Jon Meredith, dripping with sarcasm, accessed his feelings Friday morning following the Victory Cup trophy presentation and division review on 1st Infantry Division Cavalry Parade Field.
“Uh, bad. I feel bad. I feel like a loser,” he said, before changing tune. “No, that’s not true. I’m incredibly proud of the soldiers. We had some amazing performances.”
Every year Victory Week competitions pit battalion against battalion for the treasured Victory Cup trophy. But as the week began to close and points piled up, two battalions were tied for the prize.
Oh, and the commanders of those two battalions? They’re married.
But it was Lt. Col. Ann Meredith hoisting the hardware for Fort Riley’s 97th Military Police Battalion. It edged out Jon’s 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team — the 2015 Victory Cup winner.
But it’s now two in a row for Ann’s battalion and this win is extra special.
“Last year I wasn’t in command, so I couldn’t really make fun of him,” Ann joked.
“It’s a different story this year,” Jon added with a laugh.
Going into Friday, Jon told an army reporter Thursday that “discretion is the better part of valor” when asked if he had any fighting words for his wife.
He repeated that phrase after Ann’s battalion was announced as the winner.
They met in the army and have been married for six years. Ann is from Wisconsin and Jon is from Montana. Ann said this is just the second time since they’ve been married that they’ve been stationed together.
“Our first three years I was in Hawaii and he was either in Afghanistan or Fort Leavenworth,” she said. “Then we were in Georgia together but he was deployed most of the time. And then we were here together, but he’s been deployed most of the time here, too.”
Victory Cup events include basketball, bowling, softball, soccer, flag football, Danger’s Dash, skeet and trap shoot, arm wrestling, a biathlon, fishing and the Warrior Competition. Other sporting events included combative competitions, weightlifting, a tug of war and the Ten-Miler race.
“I gave him all the secrets and he actually executed them,” Ann said when asked if she gave her husband any tips throughout the week. “We just did a little better.”
Jon sarcastically agreed.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what happened,” he said. “I believe it went exactly like that. She told me exactly what to do and then we just came up a little short.”
“I told him to participate in every single event,” Ann added. “That’s the key.”
Still, Jon said the competition was all in good fun.
“To compete against my wife’s battalion, that made it so much better,” he said. “It was a lot more fun. I think you can tell both battalions worked really hard at this. I’m really happy with it. It’s been great.”
Both said they’re most proud of their soldiers and how many of them broke out of their comfort zones to try different events — some they’ve never done before.
“The best part of Victory Week is exactly what he said,” Ann said. “It wasn’t those soldiers that were really good at something, it was the ones that we said, ‘Hey, you want to try this?’ and then the came and they won something.
“To see them try a new sport and then be successful in it and be a part of that team, that was the best part. That was the most fun out of all of it.”
When it comes to bragging rights at home, Ann said she’ll be a humble victor.
“I’ll be a modest winner,” she said. “It is done, it was fun. We had a good time.”
There may be some business left, though, to sort out. According to Thursday’s army article on the couple, the losing spouse agreed to wear the winner’s battalion PT shirt every morning for a full week during PT.
Ann even suggested upping the stakes by making that bet last 100 days in honor of the Big Red One’s 100th anniversary.