Dana and Oestereich Advance to USARC Best Warrior Competition

By Maj. Steven Johnston | 377th Theater Sustainment Command | April 20, 2016

April 14, 2016 — FORT DEVENS, Mass - Eleven Soldiers braved snow and battled below-freezing temperatures in their quest to be named the best warrior in the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, in the command’s Best Warrior Competition, held April 4 – 7. These eleven already claimed the best warrior titles in their commands before descending on the frozen tundra of Ft. Devens, Mass.

Sgt. John Dana, representing the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), won the overall competition in the non-commissioned officer category. Pfc. Beau Oestereich, the best warrior from the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), took the top spot among the Soldiers. Both will represent the 377th Theater Sustainment Command at the U.S. Army Reserve Command Best Warrior Competition May 1 – 7.

“We came out here and we had great competition. It’s a great feeling,” said Dana, the overall winner in the NCO category. “You’re seeing the best of the best compete. We had hard events with long training and little sleep. We found out where our weaknesses and points of improvements were, as well as our strengths.”

Sgt. Collin Larmour of the 103rd ESC, and Spc. Brian Jenkins, representing the 3d Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), were named runners up in the NCO and Soldier categories.

The multi-day Best Warrior Competition measures the skill level, mental stamina and physical fitness of each competitor as they demonstrate proficiency on a variety of Soldier skills. Competitions are held throughout the Army. Contestants compete at the unit level, and winners continue to advance until they reach the Army-wide competition, held this year at Ft. A.P. Hill, Va. from Sept. 26 until October 3. Winning contestants in the 377th TSC competition must win the USARC title, in order to move on to the Ft. A.P. Hill event.

Competition began each day as early 4:30 a.m. For four days, warriors competed for time and accuracy, demonstrating their warrior tasks and soldiering skills from before the sun rose until well after dark, usually as late as 11 p.m. On the first day, snow fell in the early morning hours, and continued until after the competitors retired for the night.

The temperature on the first day was 23. The cold weather and snow created unique challenges for contestants. They had to endure ice and freezing temperatures while negotiating already rigorous tasks. The snow, ice and freezing temperatures remained a factor throughout the competition.

This year, 377th TSC Best Warrior Competition organizers squeezed the contest into four days, a change from five last year. The contest featured 17 events, including day and night land navigation, a hand grenade course and a confidence course. Other areas tested were quick decision-making in a shoot house, and proficiency on Army Warrior Tasks. In all, there were a total of a dozen Army Warrior Tasks tested. These included first aid after a chemical or biological attack, first aid for an open chest wound, and moving under direct fire.

Soldiers also spent time firing weapons, such as M4 carbine rifle, M9 pistol and M203 grenade launcher. Competitors not only qualified on the M4 and M9 ranges under normal conditions both day and night, they also qualified on those weapons while wearing protective masks.
Participants quickly changed from camouflage field uniforms and gear into their Army dress uniform twice, to stand before boards made up of command sergeants major. There, the senior NCOs scrutinized competitors’ uniforms. Contestants also answered questions on a variety aspects of Soldier life.

“The 377th Best Warrior Competition brings out the best in Soldiers and Leaders. It tests the mental and physical mettle of the competitors. This competition enhances all aspects of Soldier readiness and leader development. This competition will impact retention, esprit de corps and overall unit readiness,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Anderson, command sergeant major for the 377th TSC. “Not only do the competitors gain knowledge and experience, but the support personnel learn how to execute tough realistic training. This year Sgt. John Dana and Pfc. Beau Oestereich endured the elements and proved they are the Best Warriors in the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. They will go on to win the USARC BWC and ultimately the Department of the Army Competition.”

After starting the last day with a ten mile ruck march, competitors attended an awards banquet on Thursday night. Maj. Gen. Les J. Carroll, commanding general of the 377th TSC, delivered the keynote address. As the winners were announced, Carroll pinned an Army Achievement Medal on each runner up, and an Army Commendation Medal on the overall winners.

“It’s a great honor to represent the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. I will try my hardest to bring home the gold,” said Oestereich. “I’m looking forward to the USARC event. It will be fun, but even more stressful.”

Army Reservists have won the all Army Best Warrior Competition in four of the past ten years. Most recently, Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink won the title in 2015.