From the sports section of Camp Pendleton's Newspaper "The Scout"
October 3, 2003
MANTRA FOR THE LAST VIKING IS SIMPLE: JUST BE THE BEST
SGT. MATTHEW J. EPRIGHT
Friends call him The Last Viking. He's 6-foot, 215pounds, built like an ancient warrior, and he lives his life by a simple code: “To be the Best.”
Donald Shankle was that and then some Friday at the Strongest Warrior competition at the Santa Margarita 33 Area Parade Deck.
Closely resembling ESPN's strong man competitions, Marine Corps Community Service's Strongest Warrior competition consists of five grueling events – Humvee Pull, Military Press, Tire Flip, Farmers Walk, and Stone Carry – designed to test the physical and mental limits of the individuals who participate.
Ninth Communications Battalion's Shankle, whose “code” is tattooed in Greek on his back, has been training for this type of event for most of his life.
“He was born to do this,” said Meiko Shankle, his wife. She added that while some guys watch and videotape football games, her husband watches and re-watches strong man competitions, studying the techniques used by the winners.
“He's always pushing his body to the limit,” 9th Communications Michael Silamianos said.
“We had these oxygen tanks taller than me (in Kuwait and Iraq). He would carry them around,” Silamianos said, telling how Shankle trained while deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Shankle placed first or second in every event except the Tire Flip. “That's the only event I was very disappointed in,” he said. “I flipped a few tires out in Iraq, I guess I need to flip a few more.”
Ninth Communications Chris Helm captured second place in the 200 plus weight class, as well as second overall. Finishing third in weight and overall was Steven McCanless of Combat Service Support Battalion-12.
In the middleweight class (175.5 – 199.5 pounds) Arthur Solomon of CSSB-12 took first, Andrew Rodney of 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment took second and there was a tie for third between Easton Taylor of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and Robert Brown of 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.
The 150.5 – 175 pound weight class was won by Jose Uribe of Headquarters Battalion. Austin Nichols, of the staff academy, finished second, and Cory Gehring of 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment finished third.
“It's about heart, not so much about physical strength,” Shankle said. “It's about how bad you want it, and how much your willing to put up with pain; how much you can push through , to be the best.”
Donald Shankle dominated the strongest warrior competition on Friday. Here he is competing in the Tire Flip.