GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Twenty Soldiers from all across Europe converged on the Grafenwoehr training area in order to compete for the title of Best Warrior during the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 2014 Best Warrior competition, April 29 to May 1.
Starting before the sun came up and pushing all day and into the late evening, the three-day competition pushed competitors to their limits, testing their warrior skills in multiple events with little or no rest in between.
"I have been pushed physically, mentally and overall it has been a great learning experience," said 2nd Lt. Luis Villegas, a Best Warrior competitor with the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Civil Support Command. "I came out here to compete with some of the most motivated Soldiers in the area, and it's been a humbling experience. It's a good gut check as a Soldier and as a professional leader."
Soldiers competing in Best Warrior have spent months and sometimes years preparing to compete at the division level, all of whom earned the right to compete after winning their respective brigade-level competitions.
"All of the competitors have been fairing well," said Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Deal, an operations noncommissioned officer with the 21st TSC and one of the event coordinators. "Their sponsors have prepared them, and their units have prepared them. Overall, it's been an outstanding competition."
For the competitors, the opportunity to meet a new group of Soldiers and build lasting relationships is just as important as the chance to win the title of Best Warrior.
"This is the third Best Warrior competition I've competed in and every single competition I've made friends and still keep in contact with them," said Pfc. Joseph Thibault, a competitor with the 556th Area Support Medical Company, 30th Med. Brigade. "The relationships I've gained are going to benefit me in the future. If I have any trouble, I know who to refer to because they all know what they're doing."
Villegas agrees that while Soldiers are competing for the chance to be called "Best Warrior," the camaraderie built through sharing an intense experience can be just as important.
"The first day everyone is cautious of everyone else," Villegas said. "You don't necessarily receive them as your teammates, and you tend to square up your competition.
"As time progresses and you go through the experiences we go through, you start caring about how the other person is doing," he added. "Ultimately, you stop seeing them as competition and more as someone you can learn from."
Another motivator for competing Soldiers was the chance to become more proficient at their warrior skills and then pass what they have learned down to other Soldiers in their units.
"With Best Warrior, you'll get the best and most up-to-date training that you can take back to your Soldiers," said Sgt. Quincy Sanders, a competitor with the 317th Support Maintenance Company, 16th Sustainment Brigade. "Being out here is teaching us the basics and the right way to do it so that we can take that back to our units and teach them."
While all the competitors gave their all and represent the best of the best in the 21st TSC, in the end, only the winners, 1st Lt. Michael Thiesing with the 18th Engineer Brigade, Staff Sgt. Jordan Stipp with the 18th Military Police Brigade, and Spc. James Simo with the 21st Special Troops Battalion, have earned the title of Best Warrior Junior Officer, NCO and Soldier and will move on to represent the 21st TSC in the upcoming U.S. Army Europe Best Warrior competition.
Winners of the 2014 21st TSC Best Warrior Competition:
* 1st Lt. Michael D. Thiesing, 18th Engineer Brigade (Best Warrior Junior Officer)
* Staff Sgt. Jordan B. Stipp, 18th Military Police Brigade (Best Noncommissioned Officer)
* Spc. James Simo, 21st Special Troops Battalion (Best Soldier)
Runners-up of the 2014 21st TSC Best Warrior Competition:
* 1st Lt. Jeremy Lewis, 18th Military Police Brigade (Best Warrior Junior Officer)
* Staff Sgt. Alejandro Cardenas, 30th Medical Brigade (Best Noncommissioned Officer)
* Spc. Dominic Tolen, 18th Military Police Brigade (Best Soldier)
About us: The 21st Theater Sustainment Command is U.S. Army in Europe's lead organization for all sustainment activities including logistics support, transportation, combat sustainment, human resources, finance, contracting and other areas in the field of sustainment. The 21st TSC also serves as the responsible headquarters for USAREUR's Military Police and Engineer brigades, providing combat engineers and military police to partnership training and other operations in support of USAREUR, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command. Headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, with units throughout the USAREUR Area of Operations, the 21st TSC is truly positioned to be USAREUR's key enabler, where it is needed, when it is needed. "First in Support." Visit our web page at: http://www.eur.army.mil/21TSC