FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii - The U.S. Army Reserve's 9th Mission Support Command announced the winners of the 2011 Army Reserve-Pacific Best Warrior Competition in an awards ceremony here, today.

Sgt. Gerald Manansala, an interior electrician for the 797th Engineer Company in Barrigada, Guam, and Spc. Jessica Storch, a medic with the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska, were announced the 9th MSC's "best warriors," earning the titles of noncommissioned officer and Soldier of the year, respectively.

The road to becoming the "best warriors" out of entire Army Reserve in the Pacific was long and daunting for Manasala and Storch. Ultimately, the two beat out the other competitors in such events as an Army Physical Fitness Test; a six-mile road march; weapons qualification; Army knowledge; land navigation; reaction to indirect fire; and combat life-saving skills.

Manansala, at 44 years old, was by far the oldest Soldier competing with the majority of his fellow competitors less than half his age.

"I just kept working hard throughout the competition. I simply wouldn't let myself quit," explained Manansala. "At my age it's hard to stay motivated, but I just kept telling myself, 'you can do it,' 'you can do it,' and so I did."

Although Manasala's win was a great personal victory, he spent this week competing for more than just bragging rights.

"I just didn't want to let my Soldiers down," said Manansala. "I believe that the way to truly be a good leader is to lead by example. I didn't want to come to this competition and not do my best. I always ask the best of my Soldiers and that's what they can expect from me."

For Storch, her win came as a surprise to her, but not for those who supported her.

"When they called my name as the winner, I couldn't believe it," said Storch. "I just can't wait to call my dad. This win may have come as a surprise for me, but my dad told me I was going to bring home the trophy even before I left for Honolulu."

By winning these distinctive titles, Manansala and Storch will go on to represent the more than 3,000 Soldiers of the 9th MSC at the Army Reserve-wide Best Warrior competition this summer at Fort McCoy.

This week's competition was merely preparation for what's to come.

"We took the competitors through a wide array of different warrior tasks," said Master Sgt. Marlou Agpaoa, noncommissioned officer in charge planning and operations for the competition. "We tried our best to make the 9th MSC's competition as close to what they can expect to see when they compete at Fort McCoy."

Although only two Soldiers can represent the 9th MSC at this year's competition in Fort McCoy, all of the competitors proved their worth.

"Every Soldier who competed for Best Warrior really went above and beyond to showcase their talents and skills and represented their units well," said Command Sgt. Maj. Forrest Wacker, command sergeant major of the 9th MSC. "I am immensely proud of what these Soldiers have accomplished."

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