Air Defender earns title of USARPAC best warrior
Story by SGT Malcolm Cohens-Ashley on 06/19/2019
Spc. Alexander Vandermark earned the title of Soldier of the year during the United States Army Pacific’s Non-Commissioned Officer/Soldier Best Warrior Competition held from June 2-7, 2019 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The Best Warrior Competition tested the competitor’s physical fitness, mental toughness, knowledge of warrior task and drills, battle simulations and critical thinking under stressful conditions.
“It was truly evident that the commands within the U.S. Army Pacific did a great job selecting the very best to represent them in this years 2019 U.S. Army Pacific Best Warrior competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Pacific. “These Soldiers and NCO’s were physically fit, mentally tough and they came here to win.”
Vandermark, a native of Frisco, Texas, currently serves as a patriot missile system repairer, assigned to Echo-3 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. He was selected to compete in the USARPAC best warrior competition after winning the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command Non-Commissioned Officer/Soldier of the year competition in May of 2019.
Although he has been away from his current duty station due to the competition, they have been supporting him every step of the way.
“Spc. Vandermark’s achievement has galvanized the Soldiers and leaders in the unit strive for excellence,” said Capt. Antuan Aaron, the battery commander of Echo-3 THAAD, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. “I think his success has shown the unit that anything is possible with hard work and determination.”
As Vandermark has inspired others within his unit, he also credits those within his unit and the other competitors as some of his greatest sources of inspiration.
“Thinking about everyone back in my unit inspired me the most during the competition,” said Vandermark. “I was also really inspired by everyone’s motivation to keep moving forward and give it their all.”
This grueling competition included weapons qualifications, medical lanes, communications lanes, an obstacle course, a 12- mile ruck march, repelling, land navigation, helocast as well as many other events. Although these events were physically and mentally demanding, he was still able to enjoy certain events from this competition.
The helocast happens to be the one event that the majority of the competitors looked forward to. Helocasting is used to move a small unit into an operations site. The helicopter sits just above water as those aboard exit the aircraft into the water and begin movement towards the shore.
“My favorite event was definitely the helocast,” he stated. “It was a huge adrenaline rush.”
While Vandermark is enjoying his recent victory, he will soon be preparing for the next level of competition. He will be scheduled to represent USARPAC at the next level of competition; the United States Army Best Warrior Competition that is set to be held in the fall of 2019.
As he prepares for the next level, he aims to sharpen the tools he already has as he continues to push forward towards possible eternal glory.
“I’ve still got a lot of training to do to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge as well as a lot of physical training in order to prepare for the Ruck march and anything else the Sergeant Major of the Army is going to throw at us,” he remarked. “In the next level of the competition, my new plan is the old plan, stay motivated, stay alert, and be able to adjust fire when I need to.”