Story by SGT Raul Pacheco on 04/09/2019Seven soldiers from various 21st Signal Brigade subordinate units competed in the 2019 Best Warrior Competition held March 25 28 in Fort Detrick and Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
Three noncommissioned officers and four junior enlisted Soldiers fought for top honors in the four-day, multi-event competition that was designed to put their physical and mental endurance to the test.
The soldiers represented various units from across the 21st Signal Brigade, which includes Sgt. Quince Lanford and Pfc. Brendan Nunez, representing 55th Signal Company Combat Camera, Fort Meade; Ssg. Tzega Buluze, representing United States Army Support Activity, 302d Signal Battalion, Fort Meade; Spc. Jose Jimenez, representing United States Army Support Activity, 302d Signal Battalion, Fort Detrick; Sgt. Tyler DeSchryver, and Spc. Eric Nguyen, representing Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 114th Signal Battalion, Fort Detrick; and Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili, representing Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Detrick.
Soldiers had won lower-level competitions before earning a spot to compete in the 21st Signal Brigade, 2019 Best Warrior Competition.
"The competition gave the Soldiers the experience and knowledge needed to become better leaders," said Sgt. Maj. James Middleton, who was in charge of the Best Warrior Competition. "Everybody wants to be the best and this competition gives them that opportunity," Middleton said.
The events included the new Army Combat Fitness Test, soon to be implemented Army wide, the current Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, land navigation, Army knowledge written test, and a grueling 12-mile ruck march. Competitors also had to appear before a knowledge leadership evaluation board.
For one soldier, the best but most difficult part of the competition was racing against time and enduring the terrain of the ruck march.
"The most difficult part was probably the ruck march at the end, because of all the heavy physical activities endured during the first two days." Said Spc. Dzamashvili. "As well as this being my first timed ruck march I have ever done." In addition to the steep terrain, all competitors had to carry a 35 pound load and complete the 12-mile ruck march in under 4-hours.
Competing amongst themselves and against unfavorable environmental elements every Soldiers' goal is to win the coveted title, and for Spc. Jose Jimenez was no exception. "I wanted to win because I wanted to prove myself that I could, and wanted to see how far I can push myself." Jimenez said. "I dedicate my performance to my second family at USASA Detrick, and specially those who helped me train day after day for the events."
Competitors are assigned sponsors who help them prepare for the individual events. Sponsors are usually NCO's with competition experience who are ready to assist competitors with any issues that they might encounter during the competition. Those same sponsors assist them by administrating mock boards and fitness tests in preparation for the competition.
Sgt. Quince Lanford explained why he was eager to compete on the Best Warrior competition and the desire to overcome the inability to participate on last year's competition due to a last minute mission requirement that took him to the Republic of Korea for 6 months.
"My primary motivation came from the fact that I couldn't participate in 2018." Said Lanford. "So I certainly made sure that I'd be ready to compete this year if everything lined up in my favor, and certainly did. Internal motivation also played a huge part. I'm competitive at heart and I like challenging myself in each and every way I can, and this competition certainly allowed me to fulfill that yearn." Said Sgt. Lanford.
This year winners were announced at an award ceremony at the end of the final day. Sgt. Lanford and Spc. Jimenez earned top honors and were named the 21st Signal Brigade Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, respectively. They both will go on to compete in the U.S. Army 7th Signal Command Theater Best Warrior Competition at Fort Gordon, Ga. If either is successful there, the soldiers will continue on to compete for a chance at being named the Army NCO of the Year and Army Soldier of the Year.
Sgt. Tyler Deschryver, HHD, 114th Signal Battalion, Fort Detrick, and Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili, HHC, 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Detrick, were named NCO and Soldier runner ups.