JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – “Together Everyone Accomplishes More” was heard frequently as 36 Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from across the Army gathered at Camp Bullis for the first Joint Base San Antonio Best Warrior competition May 11 – 17.
Five commands headquartered on Fort Sam Houston – U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army South, Southern Regional Medical Command and U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School – teamed up to choose their Soldiers and NCOs of the Year.
Replacing separate command competitions, the partnership formed to maximize the training experience and get the most out of each organization’s budget for the annual competition say senior leaders.
“The Best Warrior Competition is important,” IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice said. “I was on a rope next to a Soldier this morning and she said, ‘I can’t quit, I can do this!’ That’s why we’re out here. You’ve got Soldiers depending on you at the other end – it’s about training how you fight and providing the most realistic experience possible. While budgets may be shrinking, training value remains critical,” he said.
With the number of competitors and tasks, staging the event took a lot of work. The effort proved successful, said Walton and the other coordinators.
“This year is different because we pooled units, resources and cadre together to put on a joint competition,” said SRMC Command Sgt. Major Marshall Huffman. “We fight together, we should train together, and I definitely think this is something we need to continue in the future.”
The commands chose their own Soldiers and NCOs of the year, and jointly recognized overall JB San Antonio winners – the highest-scoring Soldier and NCO of all competitors.
The JB San Antonio 2013 Soldier of the Year is Spc. Austin Hunsaker, 525th Military Police Company, Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, and the JB San Antonio NCO of the Year is Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Corbitt, an AMEDD instructor at Ft. Sam Houston.
Command NCOs and Soldiers of the Year are: Sgt. Bryan Teneyck of USAG Benelux and Spc. Jesse Kane of USAG West Point, IMCOM; Staff Sgt. Jason Ruiz and Spc. Malcolm Knox, ARNORTH; Staff Sgt. Jacob Dipietro and Spc. Austin Hunsaker, USARSO; Sgt. Benjamin Taylor and Spc. Connor Loehr, SRMC and Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Corbitt, AMEDD.
Thirty-six competitors representing different military occupational specialties and units from around the globe arrived May 12 to begin the week-long competition which tested the limits of their knowledge, strength and endurance. Thirty-four finished the competition. Day one started easily enough with in-processing, orientation, height and weight measurements and media training. From that point on, days become longer, nights shorter and tasks harder.
Day two started with a 5 a.m. Army Physical Fitness Test, quickly followed by an oral board review, where a panel of sergeants major scrutinized each NCO and Soldier’s record, military bearing, appearance and knowledge of Army history, regulation and current events.
Sleep deprivation tested competitors as they moved to night and day land navigation events and the mystery event tasks, which included assembling an M9 pistol, M4 rifle and M249 light assault rifle. Other major events throughout the competition included Army combatives, the obstacle course, warrior task testing in an urban environment, a timed 12 mile road march and a written exam.
After all the preparation and the grueling competition, the winners were in awe standing on stage before their comrades-in-arms. “I kind of knew where I was in some of the physical events, but you never know how you did in some of the other events,” Corbitt said with an enthusiastic smile and a fist pump. “I have to admit that the 12-mile road march took me by surprise. Normally I run the entire 12 miles and after the whole week’s events, we were exhausted. I’m fit, I was as ready as I could be, but still feel surprised to be up here.”
IMCOM winners will move on to compete at the Army level in October.
The best warriors were announced May 17 at a ceremony hosted by IMCOM at the Fort Sam Houston Theatre followed by a barbecue at U.S. Army North headquarters on the Quadrangle. Retired Army Sgt. Tomas Fajardo, a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, was an honored guest at the festivities. His humble words and salute to the competitors drew a standing ovation.
Rice echoed Kane’s sentiments as the festivities concluded. “Truly, it is a great day to be a Soldier and a great day to be in the Army!”