Getting ready
FORT MCCOY, WIS. - Spc. Gary Olsen-Saville prepared his equipment for challenges he endured during the US Army Reserve Best Warrior competition at Fort McCoy last week. Olsen-Saville grew up in Delta Junction and is assigned to the 1984th Army Hospital at Fort Wainwright.

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - A Fort Wainwright Army Reserve Soldier, Spc. Gary G. Olsen-Saville, participated in the US Army Reserve's Best Warrior competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., last week.

Olsen-Saville is a health-care specialist assigned to the 1984th Army Hospital and a full time student at University of Alaska Fairbanks studying biology. He hopes to go to medical school someday.

The journey to Wisconsin was long and sometimes difficult. Olsen-Saville said he spent many hours studying Army manuals and regulations and brushing up on skills he had not used in a while. He prepared for the physical challenges of the competition by wearing his boots to campus, loading his backpack up with lead weights and doing lots of physical training.

Olsen-Saville is one of 30 Soldiers, 28 men and two women, who ranged in age from 19 to 43. These Soldiers came from a variety of military occupational specialties and diverse backgrounds in the civilian world. Many of them have deployed and several have been decorated in combat.

To get to this stage of the competition he had to win at three previous contests starting in December. "I got three trips to Hawaii. I had never been to Hawaii before that. It was pretty darn awesome," Olsen-Saville said.

This year's competition started with an early morning fitness test, a written exam and an interview before a board of senior noncommissioned officers where competitors can be quizzed on "all things Army." Other days Soldiers were in the field being tested on tasks such as marksmanship and orienteering, as well as a variety of combat-related skills.

Soldiers also proved their spirit during a grueling road march and in hand-to-hand combat. This year's competition also included an essay and four "mystery events" which were announced only minutes before they began.

The competition "has been tough. It has been a lot more physically demanding (than previous competitions), but it is going good," Olsen-Saville said. "The last two competitions have been tough, but they were not at the level that these guys are. These are definitely the best of the best in the Reserves and they stand out here."

Olsen-Saville grew up in Delta Junction and counts his father, Elden Saville, a retired sergeant first class, among the people that he admires. He said he also thinks highly of the NCOs in his unit. "My 1st Sgt., Thomas Uptgraft, and my squad leader, Sgt. Jamie Nobel. They helped me prepare for this. I like to emulate what they do, because they do it pretty well."

When Olsen-Saville has spare time, it's all about sports. "I like lots of sports. Hockey, baseball, soccer. Anything outdoors. Hunting, fishing, four wheeling, riding snow- mobiles, all that good stuff. Typical Alaskan stuff," he said. "I hunt for caribou and moose. Me and my dad are planning a trip for when I get back, so hopefully we can get something."

Although Olsen-Saville did not win, he said "It has done a lot for me, knowledge-wise and figuring out where I am as a Soldier. It has been really good. I am definitely going back next year."

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