JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Waking up at a quarter to midnight to put together an M-16 rifle and an M-9 pistol was not a dream for Sgt. Antonio Delgado, 5/80th Ordnance Battalion, 3rd Ordnance Brigade, 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, but the end to day three of the 94th TD Best Warrior Competition held here on Aug. 14-18, 2019.
“We’re all Soldiers first,” Delgado said. “A lot of this stuff is basic Soldiering skills or your first and second level NCOs skills that are needed to train in an overseas combat environment.”
A Martinsburg W.Va. native, Delgado joined six other Army Reserve Soldiers striving to earn the coveted title of best warrior where competitors had to complete a wide range of events to include the Army physical fitness test, swimming water survival, M-16 rifle and M-9 pistol weapons ranges, an obstacle course, and a land navigation course.
“My expectations of the competitors were simple: they just had to show up,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simpson, the 94th TD’s command sergeant major. “The fact that they stepped up and took the challenge, regardless of the outcome, is all that I asked for.”
“For a long time, instructors were just instructors, drill sergeants were just drill sergeants, recruiters were just recruiters, but I want to break that mindset,” Simpson said. “Our instructors are Soldiers first, noncommissioned officers second, and then they are excellent instructors.”
Despite the grueling competition, Delgado said he found the camaraderie and networking among the competitors one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire event.
“I came out to test my skills, work with my peers, and learn from senior noncommissioned officers,” said Delgado. “If it wasn’t for them and their mentoring, this competition would have been a lot more difficult, and I made contacts that I’ll keep for the rest of my career.”
Although Delgado was nervous to tackle several of the events, his training as an instructor and his civilian job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made the weapons portions of the event a breeze.
“In my civilian career I trace crime guns, and in the military I’m an instructor for one of the ammunition specialist’s reclassification courses,” said Delgado. “Both positions definitely gave me confidence, especially with weapons, so the easiest event for me was the shooting qualification.”
Ultimately, Delgado beat out the other competitors and won top honors.
“It feels good to win, and it’s also a lot of pressure for me going forward to represent the unit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to attending and competing in the next level, but I’m dreading the train up, because it’s going to be a lot of exertion and a lot of training to be very competitive.”
At the end of the competition, Simpson was pleased with the work everyone put in to make this a successful event.
“Both the competitors and the staff were highly motivated, and I couldn't have asked for anything more,” said Simpson. “It was what I called our inaugural competition, and it gives me a lot to look forward to next year.”
“In all, I just want to ensure that we have well-rounded instructors capable of delivering the best quality instruction and leading the greatest Soldiers in the world on the modern battlefield,” he added.