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November 21, 2012

Fort Huachuca chooses ‘the best’

Spc. Erik Pedersen, Company C, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, hurries to make it to the finish line during the 12-mile road march. Pedersen came in first at 2:52:36.

Last week, 11 of Fort Huachuca’s top Soldiers competed for the title of Fort Huachuca’s ‘Best Warriors’ of 2012.

After competing Nov. 13 – 15, the winners were named at Friday’s Turkey Bowl halftime. Sgt. Mark Crosby, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, Medical Command, was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Sgt. Joshua Guzman, RWBAHC, MEDDAC, won Soldier of the Year for the installation-wide competition. The final score and winners were determined by one point.

“It feels good. I competed last year so it was good to get out and get a chance to do it again because usually you don’t get to go two times in a row. The competition was good, I didn’t think I won, but it’s a nice feeling, good competition and a lot of fun,” said Crosby. “It is pretty much the same as last year, little differences here and there. There is no night land navigation which we had last year but pretty much overall the same thing.”

“I am actually kind of shocked — the competition was tough — I knew it had to be by one or two points. I never quit; I pushed and gave everything I had in every event. Now I am looking at everything I need to work at, everything that the other competitors beat me on and I know what I have to do better on at the next level,” said Guzman.

The contestants participated in eight events over three days. During the Army physical fitness test, the Soldiers had two minutes to do as many push-ups as possible, two minutes to do as many sit-ups as possible and complete a two-mile run in 45-degree weather.

Then the competitors had warrior tasks and drills, which consisted of six different tasks: request a medical evacuation, submit a nuclear biological chemical 1 report, undergo a casualty report scenario, supervise compliance with preventative medicine measures, do a nuclear biological chemical 4 report and conduct unmasking procedures.

Next they had land navigation, during which they had to find five points in four hours. After completing the navigation portion, the Soldiers headed home before they had to be back to conduct a 12-mile tactical road march, which had to be completed in four hours, and they had to carry more than 35 pounds with them.

The Soldiers who participated in this contest are the best from their individual units on Fort Huachuca and won a similar ‘of the year’ competition at their unit level before advancing to the installation-level competition.

Following the road march, the competitors took their shot at the range to zero in their targets, followed by a written exam and essay. On the last day, the Soldiers appeared before a board of judges. Each Soldier also took part in a mystery event, disassembling, reassembling and performing a functions check on an M-16 A2 with night vision goggles.

Staff Sgt. Alice Park, 62nd Army Band, zeros in her weapon during the range part of the Best Warrior Competition.

“It is a great event that measures the ability of NCOs and Soldiers to perform measures that the Army requires of them. It is important because it helps the Army recognize those deserving few that are capable of performing the measures and tasks required by the Army but also to show outstanding leadership and the ability to volunteer for events that most Soldiers do not,” said Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Guevara, Company A, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion.

“Well at first it was a little intimidating (being the only female) but then I think it’s pretty cool that I am here representing. Other people may be a little surprised to see me but I feel like I can give everyone a run for their money,” said Staff Sgt. Alice Park, 62nd Army Band. “I think it is important because it really challenges people to really step up and learn all the different facets of being a Soldier in the Army and it gives people a chance to excel and rise above what they normally would do, so I think it is really great.”

Participants in the Soldier of the Year competition included: Spc. Jaryl French, 62nd Army Band; Sgt. Joshua Guzman, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, MEDDAC; Pfc. Kevin Gailey, Runion Dental Activity; Pfc. Shane Freeman, Company C, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion; and Spc. Erik Pedersen, 40th Company C, Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

Participants in the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year competition included: Sgt. Mark Crosby, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, MEDDAC; Sgt. Lorenzo Vigil, Company A, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion; Staff Sgt. Alice Park, 62nd Army Band; Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Burkeen, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion; Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Guevara, Company A, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion and Staff Sgt. Mark Lledo, Company C, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion.

The competition is cumulative and is a solitary event for Fort Huachuca.




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