CAMP DAWSON AIR FORCE RESERVE CENTER, W. Va. –
More than 30 Soldiers from 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) spent a week in the rugged mountainous terrain in near-freezing temperatures conducting and leading a specialized physical competition that’s held annually, permitting any enlisted Soldier to challenge themselves and test their knowledge of basic Army skills in a physically demanding situation.
Thirteen competitors from the ESC’s subordinate units and its headquarters’ company traveled from their duty stations in the Northeast United States to Camp Dawson, West Virginia for the multi-day competition, which went from Mar. 4-9.
“The Best Warrior Competition identifies your best competitors and brings them together. Soldiers learn how to do their best, and leaders learn who to look to come up the ranks,” said Command Sgt. Major William Padgelek, 316th ESC senior advisor.
Padgelek hosted this year’s ESC-level competition at Camp Dawson and was the board president. Padgelek, a former Soldier of the year himself, said it was a special honor for him to participate in this year’s event.
The Best Warrior Competition is an Army premier event. It calls together junior enlisted and non-commissioned officer and puts them through board interviews, written exams, rifle ranges and various other tasks in combat-related conditions. If the Soldiers do well in these events, they get to go on to the next level of competition—working their way to the U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Army levels toward being named ‘Soldier of the Year.’
The BWC is especially difficult for most Army Reserve Soldiers because they don’t get to spend a lot of time doing this kind of training during their monthly battle training assemblies. But for these competitors, they could not let the opportunity to compete pass.
Spc. Nicholas Newcomer of the 277th Quartermaster Company, 316th ESC said, “The events here have been awesome. Running through the gas chamber and working with the M-240B--we don’t get to do that too often.”
Another competitor, Sgt. Michael Mangen of the 439th Quartermaster Company said, “This is a big opportunity. Every Soldier should try this at least one time just to see what’s expected of them and what they can do.”
Spc. Ernest Baffoe said he prepared for the competition by making sure he did well at his unit’s competition a few weeks before to the ESC’s.
“Compared to our last event location, this was a tougher challenge with the snow and rain. The terrain here is a lot more rugged than we are accustomed to,” Baffoe said. “But, we are all prepared to do what we have to do,” he added.
Padgelek said he was humbled and honored by what he saw out of this year’s competitors. “These Soldiers are the best of the best. A lot of the Sergeants Majors you see today competed in these competitions,” Padgelek said.
The winners of the 316th ESC BWC will now have the opportunity to travel to Ft. Polk, Louisiana and competed against other ESC-level winners from the 377th Theater Sustainment Command later this spring.