Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Marnie Jacobowitz, Army Reserve Medical Command, Public Affairs
HELENA, Mont. — Thirteen Soldiers traveled across the county to brave the cold mountainous terrain for the title of ‘Best Warrior’ during the 2014 Best Warrior Competition hosted by the Army Reserve Medical Command in Pinellas Park, Fla. and supported by 4225th United States Army Hospital, here, Feb. 24-28.
This year’s Best Warrior Competition, also known as 'Operation Arctic Tundra,'consisting of more than 16 separate scored events and tasks performed over a 4-day period, designed to test the competitors’ Soldier skills, tactical agility, mental stamina and physical endurance.
For the past five years BWC has been held in sunny Florida, Command Sgt. Major Harold P. Estabrooks, command sergeant major of ARMEDCOM, decided to get competitors out of their comfort zone and move the competition to Montana, where temperatures ranged from 3-45 degrees with an average of two feet of snowfall during the winter.
"You can talk about building resiliency or you can do it, we are going to do it," said Estabrooks during the competitors welcome brief. "We are going to give you the chance to become resilient warriors."
Countless hours have been spent to put on what ARMEDCOM believes to be one of the best competitions Army Reserve wide, said Estabrooks, a native of Midwest City, Okla.
A years’ worth of planning and roughly 2,000 man hours to be exact, said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Martin, a budget analyst with the ARMEDCOM in Pinellas Park, Fla., oversees and manages the competition.
"Soldiers are really going to have to dig deep, said Martin, native of Sanford, Fla., competitors are going to have to be aggressive.
Martin had the help of approximately 40 cadre member to include 17 Soldier’s assigned to the 4225th USAH, six drill sergeants with the 95th Training Division here, several aviation assets and five former BWC winners from 4225th USAH.
The competition has two categories for the competitors to determine the top enlisted Soldiers in both the junior enlisted category (ranks of private through specialist), and the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) category (ranks corporal through sergeant first class).
“The only thing going through my head was keep going,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Maglott, 30, health care specialist for the 7236th Medical Support Unit from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Army Reserve Medical Command’s NCO of the Year winner, besting out of nine other NCO’s.
Specialist Keith Lewis, a mental health specialist with the 6253rd U.S. Army Hospital in Mesa, Ariz., Western Medical Area Readiness Support Group from San Pablo, Calif., won the 2014 Army Reserve Medical Command Soldier of the Year.
Both men will advance to the Best Warrior Competition hosted by the U.S. Army Reserve, this summer at Fort McCoy, Wis. Winners from this competition will represent the U.S. Army Reserve Command at the Army-wide Best Warrior Competition, later this year.
Soldiers spent months mental and physically preparing for BWC, for this competition. Corp. Luis Rosado, an operating room specialist with the 4220th U.S Army Hospital, Shoreham, N.Y. thought preparing for the physical aspect for BWC was the easy part.
"I went to the gym 4 times a week and maintained a good diet," said Rosado, 22, a native of Queens, N.Y.
However, the mental aspect BWC is difficult to prepare for since there is no real study guide, said Rosado.
The competitors faced of a variety of challenges which included, Army Physical Fitness Testc consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run; land navigation, land orienteering, a timed road march, conducting weapons qualification on rifles and pistols; completing a written exam; performing on an Army appearance board, military simulation training, weapons qualification on rifles and pistols, hand-to-hand combative tournament, tactical combat causally care, mystery events, a military knowledge base test and a written essay.
The Best Warrior Competition was developed by retired Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley in 2002 to reinforce to Soldiers the importance of physical endurance, military knowledge, current events and mental perseverance as the Army ramped up to defeat America’s enemies on Global War on Terror.
For the “Medic Warriors” of ARMEDCOM, the annual competition is an opportunity for Soldiers to highlight their military skills in a competitive environment and measure how well they perform under stress.
“Not only do I give the Army my personal best, but I refuse to fail myself or my NCO’s,” said Lewis. “I live the Army values in my personal life as well as in the Army … I am Army Strong!”