FORT GORDON, Ga.--(May 22, 2009) Soldiers from across the 359th Signal Brigade competed for the Best Warrior title May 15-16. To earn the title, seven Soldiers from the five subordinate units competed in: rifle marksmanship, physical fitness, written essay, a military-style board, land navigation and several Warrior Tasks.

To win, each event had to be passed and, depending on performance, was given a certain amount of points. The top two Soldiers, one lower-enlisted and one noncommissioned officer, were awarded the Brigade's Best Warrior title and continue on to the 335th Signal Command's (Theater) competition in June.

The command winners will then go to the Army Reserve competition in July. The winning Reserve Warriors will then compete at the Army-wide Best Warrior Competition in September.

The Best Warrior Competition has been around for only a few years and replaced the widely-known Soldier of the Year Competition that consisted mainly of a board.
"The newer competition is more encompassing," said Spc. Matthew Hazzard, C Company, 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion (in Md.), who won the Soldier-level Best Warrior title. "It's better because it shows that you have more knowledge and understanding. Soldiers need to be more than just book smart."

A good Soldier has many skills, said 1st Sgt. Carrie Lee, Company B, 324th Integrated Signal Battalion (at Fort Gordon). "This competition better defines the Soldier and NCO and uses all their skills."

Using a variety of skills kept the competitors on their toes, said Hazzard. "It made me think about what it takes to be an all-around Soldier. You have to be able to handle yourself in different situations."

A range of knowledge is necessary especially during the Warrior Task portion of the competition as the Soldiers were not told in advance what specific skills they would be tested on, said Sgt. Maj. John Schiffli, 359th Signal Brigade, noncommissioned officer in charge of the brigade competition. The tasks the Soldiers were tested on included: throwing a grenade; first aid; using an AT4; calling in a 9-Line Medevac request; employing a claymore mine; and assembling and dissembling an M-4 rifle and 9 mm pistol.

This range of tasks was not only a good test, but an excellent refresher, said competitor Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander, 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airbone). "The competition has been good training. I have not touched a lot of these weapons since basic training."

The study and review for competition helps more than just the opponents, said Lee. "It builds espirit de corps in the units."

At the battalions and companies, Soldiers are selected by their performance records and/or selected to compete in a unit-level competition. Either way, the moral surrounding this is "not just for the guys here, but the units we're representing," said Staff Sgt. Lucas Crumbaker, Company B, 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion (in Pa.), who won the NCO-level Best Warrior title. "They want you to do well, to represent the unit well."

The morale building and refreshing on tasks is all a nice bonus, but the main purpose of the competition is to win, said Alexander. "You don't drive five hours to lose."
And now that Hazzard and Crumbaker are on their way to the command-level competition, they are even more motivated to prepare, they said. There is no reason why we cannot make it all the way to the Army-wide competition in September, said Crumbacker.

To follow the 359th Signal Brigade Best Warriors' progress, search 359th Signal Brigade or 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion on Facebook. Or you can look at the brigade's website at

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16