By Staff Sgt. Gaelen Lowers, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsApril 30, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii-- It's 3 a.m. on a Tuesday on Oahu, Hawaii. Shops are closed and the highways empty. Bakeries haven't begun making their morning bread and coffee will go unbrewed for another two to three hours. The island is asleep. It's 3 a.m. on a Tuesday on Oahu, Hawaii, and it's time to fight!
Four Soldiers and four noncommissioned officers from 8th Theater Sustainment Command came together to compete against each other in the 8th TSC's Best Warrior Competition, Apr. 23 -- 26, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Sgt. Randal White and Spc. William Tosie from the 8th Special Troops Battalion, Sgt. Justin Mazzullo and Pfc. Cody Derington from the 130th Engineer Brigade, Sgt. Brian Rozario-Martinez and Spc. David Boone from the 8th Military Police Brigade, and Sgt. Colten Linville and Pfc. Jonathan Nelson from the 45th Sustainment Brigade, were selected by their unit's to represent them in this challenge.
The purpose of the competition was to select the best Soldier and NCO from the command to compete in the United States Army Pacific's competition, the next level before reaching the Department of the Army.
"I am competing because I want to be the best," said White, transportation management supervisor in support operations. "I want to make it to the DA level."
"Everyone wants that title of 'the best,'" said Boone, military police officer.
Day 1 began with an equipment layout and moved directly into an Army physical fitness test, but this was not your standard PT test. The Soldiers performed their pushups, sit-ups and two-mile run wearing a full Army combat uniform and carrying an M4 rifle.
"The physical aspect of the competition was the toughest part of the competition," White said. "It's a lot tougher than I imagined it would be, but I understand that it's to exhaust us as much as possible and prepare the winner for the next level."
The first day finished up with each Soldier presenting themselves in front of a board of sergeants major, as well as a hands-on portion, requiring the assembly of an Army service uniform.
The following day continued with a land navigation course, warrior tasks and drills, and finally a night time urban orienteering course. With the stress levels kept high and the sleep kept to a minimum, the Soldiers were running on little more than adrenaline alone to finish out their day.
"This competition has taught me how to stay motivated," explained Tosie, medical readiness specialist. "We've been doing events back to back, every single day. It's hard to dig deeper when your well is dry, but in order to succeed in this competition and the Army as a whole, you have to learn to find that reserve of motivation."
Day 3 continued with a four-mile road march to a rifle range where each Soldier competed in three different events: the .9 mil accuracy test, the M4 rifle accuracy test, and the stress fire challenge.
"Before we started doing the stress fire portion of the competition, most of us had blisters and hot spots on our feet already," said Boone. "So while we were doing the exercises, we were busting some of those blisters and the hot spots were continuing to grow.
"We were jumping up and down, doing pushups, and showing heart," Boone continued. "When they said go, we ran up to our weapons, took aim and fired into the targets. Hopefully we hit something."
The competition finished up with an eight-mile road march straight into a combatives tournament. Each competitor walked off of the road march and right into the "ring," which was a patch of grass, marked off with white engineering tape.
Mazzullo said that he was so tired after the road march, but wouldn't let himself stop there.
"I came this far and I'm going to finish it," he said to himself.
In the end, there could only be two winners. White from the 8th STB and Derington from the engineer brigade were able to rise above their peers and become the 8th TSC's best warriors.
Although the others will not be moving on, each one of them learned from this competition and will take the lessons back to their units and Soldiers.
"This is one of the best things I have ever done in the Army," said Boone. "It shows how much heart you have and what you are capable of doing. I've made some good friends out here. Even though it was a competition, we built a lot of team cohesion and we pushed each other to make it and get better."
Tosie summed it up best.
"By competing against the best, you raise your bar and become better," he said. "I am proud of us all and hope the best for Sgt. White and Pfc. Derington."