OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Soldiers of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade "Dragons" took to the mat to compete in the brigade's annual Modern Army Combatives tournament March 25 at the Camp Carroll fitness center.

"We are charged to fight and win our Nation's wars and we hold in high regard those who are willing to showcase their skills in order to accomplish that mission," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Adams, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment commander.

"We're here to identify the best of the best today and recognize those competitors who dominate the mat," he said.

Forty-six Soldiers from across the peninsula set out to earn the title of brigade's best in their weight class.

With dozens of Soldiers watching in the stands, competitors said the bouts were no easy feat.

"The competition was tough," said Pvt. Thomas Trujillo, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to Alpha Battery, 2-1 ADA out of Kunsan Air Base. "I went in with the mindset that I was going to win…too easy…but I came out motivated to learn more."

Trujillo took second place in the middleweight division.

The brigade's top-level Modern Army Combatives Program instructor says that the competition was more than striving to earn a title.

"The Modern Army Combatives Program is a medium for us to cultivate our warrior culture.," said Sgt. 1st Class Kovanda, MACP instructor. "We might not win the war because we're better hand to hand fighters, but we will win because of our trained willingness to engage the enemy under any circumstance."

"It provides us with a very safe opportunity to condition ourselves to fighting while under significant levels of stress and anxiety," he said. "That's an enormous advantage not only on the battlefield, but also in garrison operations."

Kovanda said that the Soldiers who won will continue to train as they prepare for the Eighth Army combatives tournament slated for later this year.


The individual winners were:

Flyweight
1st Place -- Pvt. Hernandez, Ryan
2nd Place -- Pvt. Lorduy, Erick
3rd Place -- Sgt. Gray, Samanthe

Lightweight
1st Place -- Staff Sgt. Griffin, Joshua
2nd Place -- Pfc. Dagdagan, Steven-John
3rd Place -- Pfc. Johnson, Darius

Welterweight
1st Place -- Sgt. Bruneau, Glenn
2nd Place -- Pfc. Thomas, Mathew
3rd Place -- Sgt. Nunez, Anthony

Middleweight
1st Place -- Sgt. Kim, Christopher
2nd Place -- Pvt. Trujillo, Thomas
3rd Place -- Sgt. Huerta, Joseph

Cruiserweight
1st Place -- Pfc. Burke, Brandon
2nd Place -- Pfc. Gbohola, Koami
3rd Place -- Pfc. Rivera, Benjamin

Light Heavyweight
1st Place -- Sgt. Powers, Carl
2nd Place -- Sgt. Dix, Frank
3rd Place -- Spc. Broadwell, Andrew

Heavyweight
1st Place -- Spc. Ali-Hunt, Joshua
2nd Place -- Spc. Kashinsky, Jonathan
3rd Place -- Spc. Toole, Phillip