[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                          July 24, 2009
News

U.S. Army Reserve 
Best Warrior Competition

By Sgt. 1st Class Mark Bell, U.S. Army Reserve Command

FORT MCCOY, Wis. Ėó "We know you are all good, but we are looking for the best here."

Photo: Spc. Christopher Ludwig (top) of the 4225th Army Hospital, competes against Spc. Shiloh Becher in the combatives competition. Becher was chosen USAR Soldier of the Year. (Photo by Val Hyde)
Spc. Christopher Ludwig (top) of the 4225th Army Hospital, competes against Spc. Shiloh Becher in the combatives competition. Becher was chosen USAR Soldier of the Year. (Photo by Val Hyde)

Those were the words of encouragement from Sgt. Maj. Andrew Young, the competitionís noncommissioned officer-(NCO) in-charge, to the 28 competitors participating in the 2009 U. S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition held here July 12 Ė 17. The eventual winners of the competition were NCO of the Year Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Butler, 4225th Army Hospital, Helena, Mont., and Soldier of the Year Spc. Shiloh Becher, 461th Engineer Company, Fargo, N.D. Butler and Becher will advance to the Armywide competition in September.

Here is how the event unfolded. Young gathered the competitors before the organized chaos of events that would push the mental and physical limits of the citizen warriors representing the best of the Army Reserve.

It was "Day Zero." Soldiers spent Sunday battling airline delays, lost baggage and sizing up their competition.

They are cooks, chaplain assistants, plumbers, civil affairs specialists and other military occupational specialties that sustain the force on battlefields and during humanitarian efforts across the globe.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler (left) and Spc. Shiloh Becher were selected the 2009 Army Reserve NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, during competition at Fort McCoy. They will represent the Army Reserve at the Army Best Warrior Competition Sept. 28-Oct. 2. (Contributed photo)
Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler (left) and Spc. Shiloh Becher were selected the 2009 Army Reserve NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, during competition at Fort McCoy. They will represent the Army Reserve at the Army Best Warrior Competition Sept. 28-Oct. 2.  (Contributed photo)  

"We are Army Reserve Soldiers, and the active duty is scared," Young said. "There is no doubt this yearís competition is better than last year."

As Soldiers slowly arrived at the inprocessing center, last-minute information was corrected, barracks rooms were assigned, equipment was issued and height and weight was recorded.

The next day kicked off the competition as Soldiers gathered at the dining facility, reflecting on the past several months spent in preparation for the stress associated with any Army competition.

"I donít care about what you did back in your unit and command-level competitions," Young told the attentive Soldiers and their sponsors. "The slate is clean when you signed in here, and we are here to find the best of the best. Itís the Best Warrior Competition, not the good warrior competition. Donít sell yourself or the other competitors short. Do your best."

Young stressed several important factors that could inarguably exclude a participant from completing the week-long event. Most importantly, he said it was his job to ensure Soldiers meet the basic Army standards ó height and weight, physical fitness and weapons qualification.

"If you are not within the Army standards and disregard the Army Values, I will disqualify you immediately, and youíll be out of here on the first thing smoking," Young told the competitors. "There are no negotiations. You must pass the basic Soldier standards to remain in this competition."

Photo: Sgt. Joshua Skelton of the 4th Brigade, 75th Division of Birmingham, Ala., competes in a two-mile run during the Best Warrior Competition. (Photo by Allan Harding)
Sgt. Joshua Skelton of the 4th Brigade, 75th Division of Birmingham, Ala., competes in a two-mile run during the Best Warrior Competition. (Photo by Allan Harding)  

From Alaska to Guam to Florida and all points in between, the competition brought Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from all walks of life to one of the most-competitive events of the year. The Reserve Soldiers had big combat boots to fill as Army Reserve Spc. David Obray, from Mankato, Minn., flew under the radar and snagged the title as the 2008 U.S Army Best Warrior.

"Last year, we were able to send our Soldier to the Department of the Army competition, and letís just say the Army Reserve and National Guard smoked the active Army," Young said. "This year, the Army Reserve is going to take both the Soldier and the NCO competition."

With a loud "Hooah," the competitors were visibly motivated as Young inspired their competitive edge and demanded their best performance throughout the week.

As the next morning brought new challenges, Soldiers gathered at a nearby auditorium as they waited for one-on-one boards with top Army Reserve enlisted Soldiers.

Photo: Grader Staff Sgt. Antu, (right), watches as Sgt. Timothy S. McBride, 85th Support Command, Arlington Heights, Ill., uses a lensatic compass to orient a map to the ground during the 2009 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, July 15, 2009.  (Photo by Val Hyde) (An Extra to The Real McCoy Online)
Grader Staff Sgt. Antu, (right), watches as Sgt. Timothy S. McBride, 85th Support Command, Arlington Heights, Ill., uses a lensatic compass to orient a map to the ground during the 2009 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, July 15, 2009.  (Photo by Val Hyde) (An Extra to The Real McCoy Online)

In the middle of the auditorium, Pfc. Steven Antolik, from Potomac Falls, Va., practiced his precision facing movements.

The military policeman assigned to the Military Intelligence Readiness Command said he hoped the enormous amounts of preparation would pay dividends in the end.

"I always want to win." Antolik said. "I hate to lose no matter what I am doing, and this is no different. I know Iím up against some great Soldiers and itís going to be a tough competition, but I think I have what it takes to win."

The 23-year-old Soldier said his 18-month anniversary for joining the Army Reserve would be the week of the competition. "I needed something more in my life," he said about the reasons for joining the Reserve. "I couldnít think of anything better to do that would give me what I was looking for in my life."

After a few more sharp movements, Antolikís sponsor motioned him back to his chair to finalize last-minute study efforts before his name was called ó and he slowly stood up and walked away for the unknown pressures of a Soldier board.

A few feet away, Sgt. Cody Brunet, a carpentry masonry specialist assigned to the 372nd Engineer Company, was attempting to remove small fiber pieces from his sleeve using a makeshift lint remover.

Photo: Best Warrior competitor SGT Martin Arcilla, 380th CONUS Repl.BN., Bothell, WA. prepares a hand held GPS, DAGGER, for calibration for the Urban Orientation Course. (Photo by Allan Harding) (An Extra to The Real McCoy Online)
Best Warrior competitor SGT Martin Arcilla, 380th CONUS Repl. BN., Bothell, WA. prepares a hand held GPS, DAGGER, for calibration for the Urban Orientation Course. 
(Photo by Allan Harding)
(An Extra to The Real McCoy Online)  

"Iím feeling pretty good right now," said the Milwaukee resident. "The board is an event that I feel very confident about. Itís a Soldier thing."

Throughout the morning, small bonds of new friendships were kindled and Soldiers taking care of Soldiers was the virtually unnoticed theme of the day. From flipping through homemade flash cards, correcting uniform flaws or just relaxing and sharing war stories, the 28 competitors slowly melded into one team with a mission to dismantle their upcoming competition at Fort Lee, Va., at the Department of the Army competition.

Staff Sgt. Travis Hill, assigned to 927th Trailer Transfer Point, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, was the only competitor returning for a second go around as he competed in last yearís event.

Hill, from Freemont, Neb., gave Soldiers a glimpse of what to expect during the rigorous competition and helped Soldiers prepare for the fast-approaching oral board.

"I wouldnít have anything in your pocket," he told Staff Sgt. David Ashley from Knoxville, Tenn., as he noticed a cell phone in his pocket. "You definitely donít want anything in your pockets. I would never risk it. Itís not worth something so easy to correct."

Hill offered to watch the cell phone and asked if he needed any help before going before the board.

"Thanks, I really appreciate it," Ashley, a combat engineer military urban operations instructor, said as he handed Hill the phone.

The competition wasnít about how many awards were on the uniform, what unit patch was stitched to their right sleeve, but rather about Soldiers helping each other during stressful moments.

From the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to the warrior competitions, Soldiers will continue to live the Army Values and ensure their comrades are prepared for whatever obstacles they face.

"We made it this far, (there) is nothing to lose," said Ashley. "Why torture yourself. We are all in this together, and we will all finish this together."

For more information about the Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, visit the Web site http://www.flickr.com/photos/myarmyreserve.

 

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