March 5, 2016 –
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD,Wash. - It was a calm and damp morning at Joint Base Lewis-McChord when the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Best Warrior Competition started for its half dozen competitors March 2. The Soldiers came to JBLM from as near as Marysville, Washington, and as far away as Montana where the ESC has a large subordinate unit headquartered.
One of those Soldiers, Spc. Christine Holzwarth of Billings, Mont., was the sole female Soldier in the competition. Holzwath advanced from the 652nd Regional Support Group’s competition held earlier this year in Helena, Montana.
During the BWC, Soldiers are assessed on their performance in several warrior events and the breadth and depth of their knowledge on various military topics. The competition helps instill personal courage, self-confidence and self-discipline in Soldiers while promoting physical and mental resilience that carries over to other military pursuits.
Instead of seeing the extremely physically challenging event and her gender an obstacle, Holzwarth said she saw the Best Warrior Competition as an opportunity to showcase her Army training and her ability to adapt and learn.
“This is my first competition and I’m excited and a bit nervous,” she said as she waited for her turn on the rifle range.
Holzwarth displayed great courage and a competitive spirit as she pushed through each event, including combatives where she showcased her level one skills. Combatives trains Soldiers to defend and protect themselves in hand-to-hand combat. The training builds confidence and physical strength so that a Soldier can intuitively react to an opponent in a bare-handed battle.
Holzwarth and the other competitors didn’t go through the competition alone. Each Soldier must have a sponsor who is responsible for preparing and encouraging their Soldier through the event. She said her two sponsors, Staff Sgt. Dustin Miller and Sgt. 1st Class Klodes Rookstool helped prepare her for the competition during their personal time outside of the Army Reserve mostly. Her preparation included learning to disassemble and reassemble weapons, road marching over several miles and developing quick responses to senior enlisted Soldiers’ interview questions.
Army Reserve Soldiers regularly do a good job managing the time spent between their military and civilian work requirements. Often, their dual careers accentuate each other but aren’t always similar. When Holzwarth isn’t training or working as an Army Reserve Soldier, she works at Pace Analytical as a lab technician testing water and soil samples. She works in the Army Reserve as an Information Technology Specialist. Holzwarth first became interested in joining the Reserve three months after her brother enlisted in the Active Duty Army she said.
“I didn’t know much about computers before joining the Army which is why I picked 25B,” she said. “I like being able to fix things and be independent.”
After only a few years in the Army Reserve, Holzwarth has advice to all junior enlisted Soldiers. “Accept the challenge. Jump at the chance to do something new and different,” she said. “Get out there and compete in any opportunity like the Best Warrior Competition,” she added.
Her short-term goals in the Army Reserve include gaining IT CompTIA certifications, earning a second military occupational specialty and becoming a non-commissioned officer. One of her long-term goals include learning more about becoming a commissioned officer after gaining additional enlisted experience. She also said she will continue to use her GI Bill to pay for an associate’s degree in computer systems technology at Montana State University and eventually earn a graduate degree in forensic science.
Although, Holzwarth did not advance to the next level during the competition, she said she won’t let that stop her from competing next year nor deter her from her overall mission as a Citizen-Soldier.