JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
The consortium of the Best Warrior Competition (BWC) was held for Army Reserve Soldiers at Camp Bullis in San Antonio, Texas, from March 1 through March 6, 2022. The event was hosted and utilized cadre from eight Army Reserve commands.
Soldiers from various Army Reserve units across the U.S. competed for the title of Best Warrior, and for the chance to move into the next round. The winners from each command will be moving on to their next challenge to compete at the BWC held by the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, in May.
“Not everybody can do this, you’ll be a different Soldier when you’re done with this,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Marsiglia, commanding general of the Army Reserve’s Medical Readiness Training Command (MRTC) in his opening remarks. In collaboration with the other commands, MRTC from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, planned, and provided support staff for the Aviation and Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) training, along with the Army warrior tasks portion on Day Four of the competition.
The Army Reserve Soldiers which competed in the Camp Bullis, Texas BWC participated in events which tested physical fitness, and their desire for the coveted titles of junior enlisted Best Warrior and Best Warrior noncommissioned of their respective commands.
“They’re gonna challenge you in so many ways, in so many events, you have to know how to take a deep breath, and make sure you put your best efforts into it,” said Spc. Pepe Tekpa, from the 191st Army Band, Camp Parks, California. “Moving forward I know now what the Army expects from us.”
Competitors brought sponsors to the Camp Bullis BWC who assisted in their preparation to compete throughout the various obstacles of the challenging event. Most of the time the sponsors in attendance are Soldiers who have competed in previous years BWCs.
Staff Sgt. Michael Wilson, finance NCO from the 99th Readiness Division, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, attended the event as a sponsor, “The four-day competition challenges them mentally, physically, and emotionally,” said the Norfolk, Virginia native, “It’s about finishing. I tell the Soldiers just to think about what’s next and don’t worry about tomorrow. Just focus on the next challenge.”
With a cadre of NCOs from the various commands chosen for their tactical proficiency as well as several medics and several support staff, this BWC is one of many competitions held throughout the Army Reserve, National Guard, and active-duty Army nationwide. Several commands also held competitions beforehand, this was done to vet the Soldiers who competed at the BWC consortium in Camp Bullis, Texas. Winners of this competition moving to participate at the U.S. Army Reserve Command level will then compete for the chance to go to the Department of the Army BWC later this year.
“I wanted to do this, I thought that maybe if I go, my Soldiers will be interested in doing events like this and come learn,” said Sgt. Nathan James, Medical Logistics NCO from the 391st Medical Company (logistics support) out of Hayes, Kansas. “I just qualified on the 9-millimeter (weapon) for the first time. The experience isn’t just competition, it’s also valuable training,” said James, who hails from Marquette, Kansas.
The competition included a 12-mile foot march, marksmanship, physical fitness, obstacle course, land navigation, written tests, oral board interviews, MOUT training and Army Warrior Task lanes, along with a swim event. Day One of the event started with the in-processing and an equipment inspection for each competitor in preparation for the following 96-hour challenge. Day Two started with a 12-mile foot march, weapons familiarization and testing, zeroing and live fire exercises, followed by a written essay exam, and then a three-hour night land navigation course. On the third day, competitors took the Army Combat Fitness Test before dawn, followed by a swim test which was the main event of the 63rd Readiness Division (RD).
“Soldiers had to tread water, swim with a rifle, and drop the rifle. Then after dropping the rifle, they had to swim a certain number of meters,” said Master Sgt. Brian McNeil, mobilization readiness, plans NCO from the 63rd RD. “This is an event that challenges Soldiers.”
After the swimming event, Soldiers continued to have their determination and stamina challenged by running through an obstacle course, and then participating in an oral board interview while in their dress uniform.
On the final day of competition, competitors were tested on daytime land navigation skills, MOUT, and Army Warrior Tasks which tested each individual's basic Soldier training and skills.
Finally, the day which every competitor was fighting for came.
It was Sunday, March 6, the day of the awards ceremony in which the various competitors received their well-deserved recognitions and acknowledgements for all their hard work and determination.
“It really sharpened a lot of my warrior tasks and battle drills,” said Sgt. Jessica Betando, from the 191st Army Band. “I can take what I learned here back to my unit and develop ways to practice it as a team,” said Betando.
The winners for the 63rd RD were Spc. Pepe Tekpa and Sgt. Jessica Betando. They will attend the USARC level BWC at Fort McCoy in May in hopes of moving on to the Department of the Army BWC.
“They blew my expectations,” said Sgt Maj. Sam Lee, a readiness NCO of the 63rd RD, “to pass some of those events, you can’t just show up, they dedicated substantial time on their own, and to do something like that shows to me being a Soldier is not just a job, its a way of life for them.”