JOLON, Calif. –
Led by Command Sgt. Maj. Denise Lagana, 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) command sergeant major, Soldiers from the 311th ESC traveled to Fort Hunter Liggett to participate in the 79th Theater Sustainment Command’s “Top Squad” Best Warrior Competition July 14-18.
The Best Warrior Competition is an annual competition overseen by the Department of the Army as a means of identifying and recognizing Soldiers in active, special operations, National Guard and Reserve components of the United States Army, but this competition is uniquely different because it included competitions between different unit squads, members who met for the first time at this event.
The units that participated were the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) from Los Angeles, 4th ESC from San Antonio, Texas, 364th ESC from Marysville, Washington, and the 451st ESC from Wichita, Kansas. These units traveled many miles to prove their excellence.
The 79th TSC was the first organization to initiate the “Top Squad” concept to the Best Warrior Competition. This model follows the TIMS team building for U.S. Army Soldiers who are thrown into a combat environment.
“These competitors had to dig deep every day and find the strength to conquer whatever obstacles were thrown their way. My favorite event of the competition was the Warrior Challenge, which brought a squad together,” said Lagana. “In addition to multiple written essays, three back to back APFTs and an ACFT, and finally an appearance board, these Soldiers cheered and clapped for each other regardless of whose team won.”
During the five-day competition, participants are tested on their Army aptitude, conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and Warrior tasks, and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.
Many of the Soldiers who competed in this event had already competed in battalion and brigade level competitions. The winners of this event will go on to compete at the United States Army Reserve Command competition.
This is the first time that officers competed alongside enlisted Soldiers in a Best Warrior Competition. Second Lt. Dylan Dang, 155th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 311th ESC, entered the competition because he wanted to be ready physically when it came time to deploy.
“The best part of the competition for me was meeting and talking with the junior enlisted,” said Dang. “It was great seeing Soldiers with a variety of backgrounds coming together as a team. The Soldiers in my squad are exemplary examples of the ideal future leadership.”
The standout for the 311th ESC was Pfc. Michael Rubio, 163rd Ordnance Company, who was presented a ceremonial sword for winning the “Knife Fight” portion of the competition. Because he had past fencing experience in both the foil and sabre, he was able secure a victory in this event. For him, the best part of the competition was meeting the rest of his team, valuing the camaraderie that was built during the events.
The winner of the Top Squad category was the 4th ESC. The winner of the junior Soldier category was Spc. Diego Ruelas, 974th Quartermaster, 4th ESC. The winner of the non-commissioned officer was Joshua Burke, 974th Quartermaster Company, 4th ESC. And, the winner of the officer category was Capt. Jonathan Darnall, 814th Transportation Battalion, 364th ESC. Darnall also was the top physical fitness and marksmanship competitor.
After the competition, a banquet was held in the 91st Training Division drill hall, where certificates, medals, plaques, and awards were handed out. This occasion was hosted by Maj. Gen. David Ling, 79th TSC commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. John Zimmerman, 79th TSC command sergeant major.