Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for November 8, 2010 - Spc. Justin Hinton

Specialist Justin Hinton

Current Unit: Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Current Position: Satellite Communication Systems Operator Maintainer
Component: Active Duty
Current Location: Fort Benning, Ga.
Hometown: Belleville, Ill.
Years of Service: 3

On the battlefield, Soldiers work together, relying on their comrades in arms to achieve the mission at hand. However, last month, as Spc. Justin Hinton competed at the Army’s Best Warrior competition, it was every Soldier for him or herself.

The annual event, often referred to as the “Super Bowl” of Army competitions, brought together 24 of the Army’s finest as they fought for the “Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year” titles. Competing as the Army’s Special Operations Command (USASOC) Soldier of the Year, Hinton knew it would not be an easy battle, but he felt ready.

“There have always been many amazing individuals with the Ranger Regiment and USASOC, and it was an honor to represent them in this competition.”

As a Ranger, his training and experiences prepared him well for the competition, particularly the land navigation, marksmanship and combatives training he had recently completed. In addition to training for the competition, Hinton’s deployment to Afghanistan earlier this year provided a hands-on opportunity to learn. While in-theater, he served as a satellite communications specialist and was responsible for facilitating activities associated with maintaining, operating and installing satellite communication devices.

“Being deployed definitely opened my eyes to the importance of training, why we train on the things we do, and being prepared for anything,” Hinton said.

His skills were tested and stretched as he competed at Best Warrior, particularly during a mystery challenge designed to assess the Soldiers’ ability to react, adapt and overcome a situation quickly and decisively, as well as to handle physical and mental stress. He also competed in an urban warfare simulation, physical fitness tests, written exams, board interviews, and battle drills to determine who was the best of the best.

To compete last month at Fort Lee, Va., Hinton first had to win at the regimental and command level. He was named as the Soldier of the Year for the 75th Ranger Regiment in May, and later went on to win the USASOC competition this summer.

Last year, Hinton won his battalion’s challenge, but did not advance further than the regimental level. Even though he didn’t win the overall title this year, he was pleased to advance further than he did last year.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the level I made it to last year, and I knew I could do better this time around, especially since I had a little more time to train and learn about the regiment,” he said.

Hinton is currently serves as a team leader with the Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. In the future, he hopes to become a Noncommissioned Officer, and serve in a position where he can mentor and train future Rangers.

For more information on the Best Warrior Competition, visit http://www.army.mil/bestwarrior/2010/.

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