By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsJuly 25, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland -- Soldiers from 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) tested their mettle in the Best Warrior Competition here July 21 - 25.
Staff Sgt. Hector Pena from the 48th Chemical Brigade, Staff Sgt. Keith Thomas from the 52nd EOD Group, Spc. Kyle Schultheis from the 52nd EOD Group and Spc. Dallas Poulson from the 71st EOD Group participated in the 20th CBRNE Best Warrior Competition.
Pena was selected as noncommissioned officer of the year and Schultheis earned Soldier of the year for the 20th CBRNE Command and will represent the command in the U.S. Army Forces Command competition.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Iraq War veteran, Pena serves in the 2nd Chemical Battalion's 172nd Chemical Company on Fort Riley, Kansas, part of the 48th Chemical Brigade.
"I'm thankful to my command for letting me represent our unit and our Soldiers," said Pena. "The highlight (of the competition) for me was to be able to participate in something at this level."
A native of Browns Valley, California, Schultheis serves as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician in the Fort Drum, New York-based 725th EOD Company. The 725th EOD Company is part of the 52nd EOD Group's 63rd EOD Battalion.
"It's been a great training experience," said Schultheis. "I can't wait to take it back to my command and show them what I've learned."
During four hot long days on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the Soldiers participated in a physical readiness test, marksmanship test, land navigation, water survival, warrior task challenges, a board and a 12-mile road march.
The Best Warrior competitors were recognized by 20th CBRNE Commanding General Brig. Gen. JB Burton and Command Sgt. Maj. Harold E. Dunn IV during a July 25 ceremony on Aberdeen Proving Ground's Edgewood Area.
Burton said the troops who participated in the "Soldier-warrior focused" competition demonstrated the high caliber of Solders who serve in the U.S. Army's only formation that combats Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive threats.
"Your participation helped us to raise the bar," said Burton. "You went above and beyond and proudly represented this unique command, the only one of its kind in the Department of Defense."
With specialized units on 19 military installations in 16 states, the 20th CBRNE Command trains and operates with joint, interagency and allied partners around the globe.
Soldiers and civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), eliminate CBRN and explosive ordnance hazards and defeat Improvised Explosive Devices.
The command sergeant major said the participants in the hard fought competition performed well under pressure.
"The competition was incredibly close," said Dunn. "It was very evident how much hard work and preparation each competitor applied prior to arriving."
"The Best Warrior Competition truly tests both the mental and physical capabilities of our Soldiers," said Dunn, who is from Fredericksburg, Virginia. "Each Soldier that competed in this year's event provided an example for all others to aspire to emulate."
Dunn said the highlight of the Best Warrior Competition was seeing the 20th CBNRE Command Soldiers in action.
"It is an amazing thing to see our troopers step onto the field to execute operations. Their desire and inner will to push themselves, their perseverance and determination, and flawless character and integrity while performing their duties as Soldiers in the most stressful of situations is compelling," said Dunn. "I am truly proud to serve alongside them."