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California Army National Guard lauds its Best Warriors

California Army National Guard lauds its Best Warriors

Story by Crystal Housman on 02/09/2019

February 9, 2019

by Senior Airman Crystal Housman
California National Guard Public Affairs

ANAHEIM, Calif. California honored its top soldiers, Feb. 9, during the California Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Luncheon in Anaheim, California.

The event recognized participants of the state’s annual Best Warrior Competition and individual winners of the competition’s ten events. The competition was held Jan. 10-15 at Camp San Luis Obispo.

California State Military Reserve Maj. Gen. Lawrence Haskins, who commands the California Army National Guard, presented a California Commendation Medal to each participant.

He and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Witt, the senior enlisted soldier in the California Army National Guard, also presented trophies to individual winners of the competition’s ten events.

Winners of the 2019 Best Warrior individual events are:

Unknown Distance Ruck March
Staff Sgt. Kory Simmons, 95th Civil Support Team, Joint Force Headquarters

Combined Day and Night Land Navigation Course
Staff Sgt. Kory Simmons, 95th Civil Support Team, Joint Force Headquarters

Unknown Distance Run
Specialist Jonathan Salazar, 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade

Rifle Marksmanship
Sgt. Benjamin Slade, 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 115th Regional Support Group

Pistol Marksmanship
Staff Sgt. Kory Simmons, 95th Civil Support Team, Joint Force Headquarters

Noncommissioned Officer Warrior Task
Sgt. Daniel Peralta, 1st Battalion, 144th Field Artillery Regiment, 100th Troop Command

Soldier Warrior Task
Spc. Andrew Burns, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Infantry Division

Army Physical Fitness Winner
Spc. Melisa Flores, 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 115th Regional Support Group

Appearance Board
Spc. Melisa Flores, 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 115th Regional Support Group

Mystery Event
Specialist Jonathan Salazar, 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade

The mystery event involved a clear and extract exercise during which each soldier had to clear a room, extract weapons from the site and overcome a weapon-wielding assailant.

Results of each event have been kept close-hold in the three and half weeks since Best Warrior concluded and participants arrived to the luncheon unaware of who the winners would be.

Flores, a paralegal specialist and first-year state level competitor, was surprised when her name was called for back-to-back trophy presentations.

“I was completely surprised,” said Flores. “I thought I wasn’t going to receive anything.”

Flores led the fitness event by logging an extended score of 314 points on the Army Physical Fitness Test, which includes push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run.

The competition was challenging but worth it, she said.

“It was very difficult, but I feel like I’m coming out with more leadership qualities,” Flores said. “I definitely feel more advanced.”

Best Warrior is rigorous, but good for the soldiers and good for the Guard, Witt said.

“It challenges the soldiers, but it also lets them build on things they learn here at the event and take it back to their formations,” he said.

To compete at the state level, soldiers must first advance through a series of company, battalion and brigade level competitions.

“These soldiers have competed in several different levels to get here,” Witt said. “They’re the best of the best.”

Overall winners for the soldier and noncommissioned officer categories will be announced during the California Military Department’s Service Member of the Year Banquet.

The two overall winners will represent the California Army National Guard this spring during a regional Best Warrior Competition in Utah.

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