CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - Gunshots could be heard nearby. He couldn't see anything in the tall grass. He scanned the area with a discriminating eye. All around him the terrain gave away to steep hills that dropped off. He knew he had to suppress enemy fire and keep pushing forward; there was a U.S. Army sniper team that was compromised and needed help.
He saw enemy movement and began firing his rifle, hitting his targets. His heart pounded and his muscles ached as he sprinted forward again. He was near sniper team's last known location.
He spotted a fallen sniper. The sniper was bleeding badly from his leg. After applying a tourniquet, he hoisted the sniper over his shoulder and ran to a safer position.
This scenario was given to Soldiers during 2nd Infantry Division's 2015 Best Warrior Competition at the trauma lane station.
"We have many different events to determine who is really the best warrior," said Capt Joe Langella, an assistant operations officer for 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. "Everything from swimming to your ability to evaluate casualties."
The 2015 Best Warrior Competition, held April 7 to 10, tested each Soldier's strength, wit and tenacity with several stations: a water survival test; a combat fitness test; night and day land navigation; an M249 machine gun, M4 rifle and M9 pistol stress shoot; weapons assembly; reacting to chemical, biological radiological, nuclear and explosive environment; sending up a situation report via radio; negotiate a Republic of Korea army Ranger obstacle course; hand grenade employment; filling out a range card; evaluate a casualty and send a medical evacuation request; a simulated-media interview, a written exam and a board. The events were located at Camp Casey, Camp Hovey, Camp Red Cloud and Story Live Fire Complex, South Korea.
"Many of these stations are what Soldiers are trained on quarterly and monthly back at their units," said Langella. "I think it is great for them to be able to use their skills in a situation where they are under a lot stress to show them they can still accomplish the task at hand when they are physically and mentally tired."
"I believe we are Soldiers first and this competition embodies that," said 1st Lt. Ronald White, the executive officer for Company A, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Aviation Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div. "It helps us hone in and become more proficient at some of those basic Soldier tasks."
"The events are back-to-back and you have to think on the fly," said Staff Sgt. Rudy Alaniz, an information technology specialist with Headquarter and Headquarters Battery, 210th Fires Bde. "First we had combat water survival and now we have to do a media interview. So you have to be able react appropriately and you have to know what to say, even though you are exhausted."
Four Soldiers were selected from within each brigade to participate at the division best warrior competition: an officer, a noncommissioned officer, a lower enlisted Soldier and a Korean Augmented to the U.S. Army.
"We trained as a team," said White. "We really came together in the last couple of weeks studying with one another and helping each other out. Events such as these are a great way to build esprit de corps. We are definitely building up the warrior spirit today."
"I think whenever all of the units within division are competing against each other it enhances what it means to be a warrior," Langella said. "Every unit wants to win, every unit wants to be recognized as having the best warrior within the division. That kind of competition is inherently good. Soldiers can feel good about themselves and see that they can actually do the tasks that they are being trained on."
UPDATE APRIL 13, 2015:
"This competition gave Soldiers and leaders an opportunity to learn a lot about who they are," said Command Sgt. Maj. Trevor Walker, senior enlisted advisor for 1st ABCT. "You have to break out of your comfort zone to truly know what you are capable of. In the battlefield, the enemy doesn't care about your comfort zone and he will try to break you. These warriors have shown that we are truly ready to fight, and that we, if necessary, will be the ones pushing the enemy beyond their breaking point."
The winners of the 2nd Inf. Div. 2015 Best Warrior Competition are as follows:
Category / Winner
KATUSA----- Sgt. Dong Lee of 2nd CAB
Officer-------1st Lt. Addison Clincy of 210th FAB
NCO----------Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Alejandro of 1st ABCT
Soldier-------Pfc. Jernerio White of 1st ABCT