Soldiers compete in 2019 Pennsylvania Best Warrior Competition
Story by SGT Shane Smith on 03/29/2019
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. Thirteen enlisted Pennsylvania Army National Guard Soldiers competed in the 2019 state-level Best Warrior Competition here March 25-28.
The Soldiers competed in ten events designed to test the limits of their physical and mental endurance and assess the “Whole Soldier Concept.”
The competition began March 25 with a welcome and in brief, followed by a written exam on general Soldier knowledge. On day two competitors performed an M4 carbine weapons qualification and a 9 mm pistol weapons qualification. Immediately following weapons qualifications, competitors executed an obstacle course before conducting an eight mile ruck march. Using what little remained of their energy, the Soldiers then completed events from the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) prior to completing the current Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
Day three consisted of a very early wake up to conduct night and day land navigation. Competitors then took part in a medical event where they conducted team movement drills to perform medical aid in a combat zone scenario, which culminated with loading a simulated casualty onto an aircraft for evacuation. The Soldiers were then transported to Fort Indiantown Gap’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) for a mystery event that consisted of having to navigate an Urban Assault Course while completing six warrior tasks including call for fire, searching an individual, and requesting medical evacuation.
On the final day of the competition competitors took part in the last evaluated event, a leadership and appearance board. Later that afternoon the Soldiers were honored during the closing ceremony of the competition, where they received words of encouragement from Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Mark McCormack, 28th Infantry Division Commanding General Support, and Command Sgt. Maj. Harry Buchanan, Pennsylvania’s senior enlisted advisor.
“You should be proud of your performance here, you should be proud to be a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, you should be proud of being a Soldier, and you should be proud of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Carrelli. “Thank you for your hard work during this competition, and for every day you serve as a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.”
The thirteen Soldiers were competing in three separate boards within the competition: the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, the Soldier of the Year, and the Command Sgt. Maj. Jay H. Fields NCO Leadership Award.
Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein assigned to 1st Battalion, 166th Regiment was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
“I think a lot of Soldiers are too intimidated to take part in this competition,” Friedlein explained, “but you don’t have to be a super Soldier to complete these events. These are tasks that we as Soldiers in the U.S. Army should be able to perform confidently. This competition helps identify where our personal weaknesses are as Soldiers and gives us things we can work to improve on.”
Spc. Tyler Landis assigned to the 121st Transportation Company, 213th Regional Support Group was named Soldier of the Year.
“Day two pushed us to our absolute limits physically,” said Landis. “Going from the obstacle course to the ruck march right in to the PT test was extremely challenging. Having to perform events from the ACFT before actually completing the APFT was different from what we’re used to, so being able to make it through that was a huge boost to my confidence.”
Staff Sgt. John Fowler assigned to the 228th Engineer Company, 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 28th Infantry Division was awarded the Command Sgt. Maj. Jay H. Fields NCO Leadership Award.
“We had Soldiers from all across the state coming together here to compete against one another. We all come from different backgrounds and walks of life, but we worked well together throughout the competition,” said Fowler. “We all helped each other push through to the end. It was like we actually became a unit as a whole. It was impressive to experience that firsthand.”
Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein and Spc. Tyler Landis will go on to represent Pennsylvania at the Region II Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Dawson, West Virginia May 16-19, where they will compete against Army National Guard Soldiers from other states in the northeast U.S.
“You represent the entire Pennsylvania Army National Guard going forward. Not only those moving on to the regional competition, but each one of you every day you put on this uniform,” said McCormack.
FULL LIST OF COMPETITORS
Noncommissioned Officer of the Year:
-Sgt. Trevor Howard, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division
-Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein, 1st Battalion, 166th Regiment (WINNER)
-Sgt. Jedediah Dabbs, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division
-Sgt. Eric Blood, 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 28th Infantry Division
-Staff Sgt. Zachary Teisher, 213th Personnel Company, 213th Regional Support Group
Soldier of the Year:
-Pfc. Erin Sawor, 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division
-Spc. Brandon Simmers, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Fort Indiantown Gap Training Center Garrison Command
-Spc. Dana Germano, 103rd Brigade Engineering Battalion, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division
-Spc. Christina Herrera, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 28th Infantry Division
-Spc. Tyler Landis, 121st Transportation Company, 213th Regional Support Group (WINNER)
Command Sgt. Maj. Jay H. Fields NCO Leadership Award:
-Staff Sgt. Michael Stryker, 3rd Battalion, 166th Regiment
-Staff Sgt. John Fowler, 228th Engineer Company, 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 28th Infantry Division (WINNER)
-Sgt. William Fletcher, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division