Two Soldiers prove to be ‘Best Warrior’
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Marnie Jacobowitz, Public Affairs
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Months of training could not fully prepare 10 Soldiers for the challenges of the 2013 Best Warrior Competition hosted by the Army Reserve Medical Command, here and Camp Blanding, Starke, Fla., March 22 – 30.
The Best Warrior Competition, consisting of more than 15 separate scored events and tasks performed over a 5-day period, designed to test the competitors’ Soldier skills, tactical agility, mental stamina and physical endurance.
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).
“From the get-go I knew there was going to be some obstacles that I never have come across,” said Sgt. Blayne Peterson, 21, a combat medic with the 7203rd Medical Support Unit, Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Hobart, Ind., and the Army Reserve Medical Command’s NCO of the Year winner, besting out four other NCOs.
Spc. James Freitas, 23, a combat medic, assigned to the 5010th U.S. Army Hospital, Southeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group, from Fort Gordon, Ga., won the 2013 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 Army Reserve Command at the Army-wide Best Warrior Competition, later this year.
Soldiers from the command traveled here from all over the nation to be part of the competition.
Spc. Emil Neitzke, a combat medic with the 4005th U.S. Army Hospital Detachment 1, CEMARSG in Houston, said he did not know what to expect, so he prepared for Best Warrior Competition by reviewing the study material and taking himself on a weekly road march.
“I knew it was going to be tough … physically and mentally,” said Neitzke, 24, a native of Alma, Mich., and now resides in South Texas.
The competitors spent the week on a variety of challenges which included, Camp Blanding’s air assault obstacle course; an Army Physical Fitness Test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run; negotiated a day Urban Warfighting Orienteering course; completed a timed road march, conducted weapons qualification on rifles and pistols; completed a written exam; performed on an Army appearance board; and proved their mettle in other areas of skill such as, a hand-to-hand combative tournament, several mystery events, and squad tactics set in mock city neighborhood in Afghanistan, with opposing forces, complete with smoke and flash-bang grenades.
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 AR-MEDCOM, 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.
“If I win this tournament … it would not only help me at the next level but [help] Soldiers at my unit,” said Spc. Daren Thompson, a combat medic assigned to the 7226th Medical Support Unit, SEMARSG, from Fort Jackson, S.C.
Spc. Nicholas Peterson, a health care specialist with the 5502nd U.S. Army Hospital, WEMARSG, Aurora, Colo., stated that the Best Warrior Competition was a great opportunity to participate in excellent training and hone his military and Soldier skills. Peterson, 23, a native of Lakewood, Colo., was the runner up for the Soldier of the Year.
Sgt. Rynaldo McRae, 26, a personnel administrator, assigned to the 4225th United States Army Hospital, Western Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Fort Harrison, Mont., said he wanted to prove to himself that he was capable of competing while keeping to the units’ legacy of Best Warrior Competition candidates.
“The training that we get here is hard to come by,” said McRae, 26, a native of Redfield, S.D., and the runner up for the NCO of the Year. “I learned that I could push myself farther than I thought I could.”