Finding the “best of the best” was the name of the game as eight Fort Huachuca enlisted Soldiers competed in the 2013 Best Warrior Competition last week, participating in seven different events over three days.
The top two Soldiers in the junior enlisted category were Cpl. Isaac Milam, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, and Spc. Jacob Beyer, Military Intelligence Corps Band. The top two in the noncommissioned officer category were Sgt. Joshua Granado, 18th Military Police Detachment, and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Burnett, 309th MI Bn.
The final winners of the competition will not be announced until the Installation Awards Banquet, Feb. 21, at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.
“From a leader’s standpoint, they’ve all won because they have all gained some type of knowledge,” said Master Sgt. Alen Schulze, who planned the events for the competition.
On the first day, the Soldiers participated in an Army physical fitness test, where they each had two minutes to do as many pushups as they could, two minutes to do as many sit-ups as possible, and had to run two miles for the best time.
Later that day the competitors had the warrior tasks and battle drills event, consisting of three tasks based on their skill level. Skill level-one tasks were: correct malfunctions with assigned weapon and perform a functions check on an M16 rifle; perform first aid on a bleeding extremity; and evaluate a casualty. The tasks for skill level-two were: submit a nuclear, biological and chemical 1 report; perform proper unmasking procedures in the event of a chemical or biological attack; and complete a composite risk management worksheet.
Prior to the competition Spc. Anna McGinty, a participant from the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, said, “I’m nervous about [warrior tasks] because there are so many tasks they could test from. It’s a lot to cover, a lot to study.”
On Jan. 15, the Soldiers began at 5 a.m. with a 10k foot march in the dark, carrying a rucksack that weighed a minimum of 35 pounds. Immediately afterward, they moved to the firing range where they had to qualify with a M4 weapon. The day finished with the land navigation event in which each Soldier had to map and find five points in the least amount of time.
For Beyer, the land navigation was his favorite event.
“It’s a solo event so I am by myself and I don’t have to rely on anybody,” he said. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. You are able to find out where your difficulties are.”
The competition was tough but for some, that builds motivation.
“I am the type of person who, I don’t want to see them beat me,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Burnett, Company F, 309th MI Bn. “We are going to be rucking out there, and if I see a Soldier going in front of me, then that drives me to pass him.”
To prepare, Burnett said he went to numerous boards to test his knowledge and has implemented his skills numerous times throughout his Army career.
“We do warrior tasks and battle drills two or three times a quarter, so I know them. And land navigation we do four times a year,” he said. “Now it is just putting it all together and showing Fort Huachuca that I am the best NCO out there.”
On the final day, the contestants participated in a mystery event in which they had to call for medical evaluation of an injured comrade. Completing the competition, each Soldier was interviewed by a four-judge board.
Command Sgt. Maj. Brenda Kadet, the board president and command sergeant major for the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command, said, “Just the fact that you decided to compete for this competition, and you have bypassed or met the standard in the tasks that came before today, says a lot about you and your sponsors.”
Each event was based on points, and the person with the most points won.
“It’s a fair [competition] but there’s no ‘gee whiz’ or ‘stump the chump’ involved here,” said Schulze. “These are all basic Soldier skills, whether they are for the junior enlisted or for the noncommissioned officer.”
Each participant had a sponsor who helped him or her prepare prior to the board, as well as support them throughout the competition.
“You should always be there for your Soldiers. It really does matter that my representative was here the entire time to guide me and motivate me,” said Milam.
What was easy for one competitor may have been hard for another but according to Beyer, the “best warrior” comes down to dedication.
“It takes determination. Real determination to fight through the nerves, the failures and successes, not letting things get to your head. Just kind of trucking forward and moving on,” he said.
Contestants in the noncommissioned officer category included: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Burnett, 309th MI Bn.; Staff Sgt. Jennifer Soto, 304th MI Bn.; Staff Sgt. Jeffery Baker, 305th MI Bn.; and Sgt. Joshua Granado, 18th Military Police Detachment.
Contestants in the junior enlisted category included: Cpl. Isaac Milam, 305th MI Bn.; Spc. Jacob Beyer, Military Intelligence Corps Band; Spc. Anna McGinty, ; and Pfc. Sean Essary, 304th MI Bn.