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NEWS | March 24, 2016

Army Reserve competition defines best warriors

By Staff Sgt. Ashley M. Cohen 35th Signal Brigade (Theater Tactical)

The Army Reserve Medical Command brought their top noncommissioned officers and Soldiers from all over the country to Fort Gordon, Georgia, March 6-11, 2016 to compete for the title of best warrior. 

The competition tested the warrior skills of 3 Soldiers and 5 NCOs to determine whom among them deserved the titles of Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year for their command. 

"Soldiers have lost some of those basic combat skills that they need to be good NCOs and competitions like this help bring those skills back and test them," said Command Sgt. Maj. Marlo V. Cross, senior enlisted advisor for ARMEDCOM, headquartered out of Pinellas Park, Florida. 

The warriors who beat the rest to become ARMEDCOM's best were; Spc. Christopher L. Ubias, practical nursing specialist, 5502nd U.S. Army Hospital, of Denver, Colorado, and Sgt. Abraham Amavisca, a practical nursing noncommissioned officer with the 7305th Medical Training Support Battalion out of Sacramento, California. 

"They were tested from start to finish. I have no doubt that our winner's won to the standard and that they are ready for the next level of competition," said Cross.

Ubias, an Austin, Texas native, was honored as the command's Soldier of Year and Sacramento native Amavisca, as the NCO of Year in a ceremony at Fort Gordon's Army Reserve Center, March 11, 2016.

"All the events were designed to encompass the entirety of the basic warrior. I think we all have our own strengths and weaknesses in different areas but I think this is designed specifically to see who can encompass the most of those," said Ubias, who has served 4 years in the Army Reserve. "We can't all expect to be 100 percent on all of them but we can expect to do our best and to persevere through all of them and not give up. I think that's what defines the best warrior."

The competition included events that focused on general Army requirements like a physical fitness test and weapons qualification, but it also challenged the Soldiers in skills less commonly used like military operations on urban terrain or "MOUT" and land navigation.

"I love the Army," said Amavisca, an Iraq veteran who has served over 10 years in the military. 

"I love the things that we do and this is something I just really wanted to do," he stated about why he decided to compete. "Overall, it was amazing. I enjoyed every minute of it."

Both Amavisca and Ubias agreed on what they considered the most challenging event in the competition.

"For me the most difficult, I would have to say was the ruck march. It was the most physically strenuous; the six miles and the weight. It starts off relatively easy but as the miles start rolling on and the weight just seems to get heavier and heavier and the heat doesn't make it easier," said Ubias. 

Drill sergeants from the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) were brought in to use their expertise to facilitate each event of the competition and to ensure that everything adhered to appropriate standards and regulations. 

"They did a number of events; MOUT training, weapons, warrior tasks and battle drills, things as Soldiers that no matter what your (job) is, you should be able to do throughout your time in service," said Sgt. 1st Class Maria L. Duncan, a drill sergeant with 98th Training Division (IET) out of Fort Benning, Georgia. "We want to make sure that they have good morale, it's meant to be challenging, it's built to be challenging but at the same time meant to build that confidence within them."

Duncan and Cross both shared their hope that every competitor would use the knowledge and skills that they earned in the competition to help shape the Soldiers in their units to become better warriors. 

"First and foremost I feel like I've grown as a leader and I feel like that was just set forth by all the cadre and all the competitors learning from them," said Ubias. "I've learned a lot of things that I want to take back and hopefully mentor future Soldiers who are interested in doing this event later." 

Ubias explained that some of these tasks he had never done before, and now has a good grasp on it and can take it back to the unit and say, "Hey there are some cool things out there that you can do in the military. You don't have to just be a medic, you don't have to just be a lab tech you can be a Soldier you can do some cool stuff."

Upon winning, ARMEDCOM's best warriors must prepare to represent ARMEDCOM at the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior competition in hopes of winning and representing the Army Reserve in the Department of the Army competition.

"I have complete confidence in these young men. We will do our best to do what we can to prepare them for the next level," said Cross. "In my mind they are all winners, everyone who came here to compete is a winner."