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NEWS | Aug. 24, 2016

Band of Brothers: 2016 USAR Best Warrior winners train together in Montana

By Brian Godette U.S. Army Reserve Command

FORT HARRISON, Mont. – Warriors met in the Mid-West. Three months prior to the meeting in the Mid-West these Warriors were pitted against each other in the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition.

Emerging as winners from the 2016 USAR BWC, stood Sgt. 1st Class Joshua A. Moeller and Spc. Michael S. Orozco, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Soldier of the Year respectively, as well as the NCO of the Year runner-up, Sgt. 1st Class Robert D. Jones and the Soldier of the Year runner-up, Spc. Carlo Deldonno.

These Warriors, these Soldiers, now slated to represent the U.S. Army Reserve at the Department of Army level BWC later this year began their train-up for the competition in Montana, not as competitors, but as a newly formed band of brothers.

”I feel like we’ve gotten closer,” said Deldonno. “It’s been a smooth transition, being on the same team, like I’ve always felt we were.”

The USAR Best Warrior winners traveled to Montana to begin a three week intensive training conducted by U.S. Army Reserve Command noncommissioned officer training staff and a team of U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants, designed to give the winners the best preparation for the upcoming competition.

“This training has been really good. It’s focused a lot on the skills I feel I need to work on,” said Deldonno.

“If it were just going to be me training by myself I probably would of done alright but there’s just no substitute for going through the actual task itself, with the equipment you’re going to use, being trained by some of the best drill sergeants whose sole purpose it is to prepare you for this competition,” said Moeller.

The training marked the first time the winners and the runner-ups were able to work with each other in pursuit of the same goal.

“I did not know them prior to the competition, and now we are all living and working together these three weeks so the bond is really strong and we are all helping each other out,” said Moeller.

“You know what? I love the Army because even in something like this, which is an individual competition, the Army is a team sport,” added Moeller.

The training encompassed basic Soldier skills, tasks and drills, as well as training on military knowledge to accompany a host of other physical demands. To endure, the warriors relied on their instructors, and most importantly, each other.

“The experience of going from competing against someone to now training with them has been great,” said Orzoco. “One of the Soldiers, Spc. Deldonno is a medic and he’s really skilled, both on the civilian side as a paramedic and a combat medic on the Army Reserve side, and he’s brought a lot of extra knowledge.”

“Drill Sgt. Moeller and Drill Sgt. Jones, they bring a lot of the drill sergeant knowledge so if something may have been missed or they think they can add something, they’ve been able to give us a lot more information that when we were competing against them and they didn’t tell us about it,” said Orzoco.

The endgame for the Army Reserve is to have another winner at the DA BWC, like Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink did last year, becoming the best NCO in the entire Army, highlighting all that is good in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“There’s a stigma about the Army Reserve that the Soldiers, because they are part time, they are not on the same level, and I’ve actually seen the opposite,” said Moeller.

Moeller, who was an active duty Soldier for 10 years prior to joining the U.S. Army Reserve took deeper appreciation in serving as a representation of the force.

“It’s been pleasantly surprising how professional all the Soldiers in the reserve are because they not only have to be Soldiers when called upon but they have to balance an entirely separate life and that has made some incredibly dynamic and multifaceted Soldiers and leaders I have seen around the force,” said Moeller.

“All of those things wrapped up into one, the Army Reserve is definitely putting their best foot forward,” added Moeller.

For these Warriors who met in the Mid-West, these former competitors, camaraderie and a common goal to be the best that they can has forged a new bond between brothers.

“Anywhere you go, doesn’t matter what part of the country the person came from or what their background is, at the end of the day you all bleed green so we kind of just fall in to it like we’re old friends.”