By Kevin Abel, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs OfficeMarch 23, 2016
STUTTGART, Germany -- Installation Management Command-Europe announced the winners of its 2016 Best Warrior Competition before an audience of Soldiers, leaders and distinguished visitors during a March 23 ceremony on Patch Barracks.
Specialist Samuel Latimore, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, received Best Warrior Soldier of the Year honors, with Staff Sgt. Brendan Hagens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, earning the title of Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer.
"I am truly honored to be selected, and humbled to be in this competition with these great NCOs and Soldiers," said Hagens after he and Latimore were recognized by IMCOM-Europe Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada and Col. Glenn Dickenson, commander of U.S. Army Stuttgart.
Prior to the naming Hagens and Latimore, who now will represent the region during the IMCOM Best Warrior Competition, Canada told attendees at the Swabian Events Center: "Today, only two of our 12 competitors can be named IMCOM-Europe Best Warrior. But each one carries a winner's spirit."
He added that every competitor has been singled out for their commitment, professionalism and service. "They all can claim to be among the best in our ranks."
From a board appearance to battle drills, the dozen participants were pushed for four days in a trial of their physical and mental readiness during day and night land navigation, Modern Army Combatives, obstacle course, Situational Training Exercise with seven stations, and zero and weapon qualification on the M4 carbine and M9 pistol.
The competition began with the standard Army Physical Fitness Test in the early morning hours of Sunday, followed by an appearance in front of a Sergeants Major's Board. The board challenged the competitors Army knowledge aptitude, while the ensuing three days tested their mental toughness and physical strength.
As Soldiers must be versed in a variety of warrior tasks outside of their primary military occupational skill, competitors were expected to be proficient in more than 40 Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, but didn't know which seven they would face until they entered the STX lanes.
In addition to the difficulty levels of each individual event, the Soldiers battled fatigue and injuries as the competition allowed for minimal rest time.
For some, the final event, a 12-mile timed road march, proved to be the most difficult task. Soldiers were required to carry a 35-pound rucksack, wear their Improved Outer Tactical Vest and finish the march in less than three hours to receive points.
This would be the competitors' final opportunity to rack up points in hopes of winning Installation Management Command-Europe's Best Warrior, a title which meant something different to each person.
For some it was to prove they were among the best, for others it was a chance to refine Soldier skills to become a better troop. For Latimore, it meant that the months of preparing for the event were worth it.
"I have the utmost respect for all the competitors, I know what they put into being here and to be claimed the winner is an honor" said Latimore. "I like to think I could do it on my own, I put myself out there and did my best, but I know that it took the support of my fellow Soldiers and family to make it where I am."