By Sgt. Andrew ShipleyMarch 24, 2016
CAMP DODGE, Iowa - The 2016 Iowa Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa March 18-20 presented a unique opportunity for one Soldier.
Spc. Ethan Estabrooks, a crew chief and mechanic with Company C, 2-147th Aviation, Iowa Army National Guard, navigated, engaged and maneuvered through the three-day event with the help of a fellow Soldier who acted as his sponsor and who also happens to be his father.
"I wanted to be there for him for moral support and help him with anything he needed," said 1st Sgt. Gary Estabrooks, first sergeant of Company A, 248th Aviation Support Battalion, in Waterloo, Iowa. "To help guide him through the Best Warrior Competition and watching him compete was fun."
The Best Warrior Competition consisted of several mentally and physically demanding events such as land navigation, an Army Physical Fitness Test, a 12-mile march with a loaded rucksack, and several other tasks.
Ethan, a Slater, Iowa, native and third-generation service member, recalled his interest in the military and his father's service as a child.
"I grew up throwing on some boots and this small [Army] uniform with 'Estabrooks' on it," said Ethan. "It has always interested me. One day, before graduating from high school, dad comes in the house and asks me how I'm going to pay for college. Two or three days later, he was able to convince me that the National Guard was the way to go."
Gary, a former recruiter with the Iowa Army National Guard, felt his background helped his son to enlist.
"My background in recruiting was important to make sure he was getting what he wanted," said Gary. "It was a way to get his college done and set him up for success."
With the benefits gained by serving in the military, there also comes a certain level of duty, loyalty and selfless service.
"Being pulled away from the family is never easy," Gary said. "My wife and I never pushed the military on Ethan. I'm happy to see that he's happy and being successful."
Gary feels he's passing the torch in their family's military service.
"I really never envisioned that he would be in the National Guard," Gary said. "I started out in aviation, he's starting out in aviation. We had a lot of fun spending time together during this competition. It's a neat way to hand it off and see what he can do with it."
Ethan, one of eight junior enlisted Soldiers to finish the competition, added he had some ups and downs during the competition, but felt it was an overall success.
"I felt like I did pretty well until the ruck march," said Ethan. "I enjoyed the land navigation event the most. I was able to find all the points and within a time I was happy with."
Ethan is currently attending Des Moines Area Community College, taking pre-engineering classes before transferring to Iowa State University to earn his degree in aerospace engineering.