WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- The Pacific Region of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Best Warrior Competition took place March 26-29, and the winners are preparing to face off in the command-level event May 8-12 in Colorado Springs.

Sgt. Justin Thompson and Spc. Manuel Martinez, both with D Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, were named the Pacific Region winners.

The competition included three NCOs: Staff Sgt. Michael Holbein, Staff Sgt. Theodore Wills, and Thompson, and one Soldier: Martinez, competing in these areas: an Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, a written test and essay, a 12-mile ruck march, Army warrior tasks, day land navigation, night land navigation, and a board.

"The most challenging part of the competition was the 12-mile ruck march," said Martinez, an East Moline, Illinois, native. "It took a lot of willpower to finish."

In preparation for the command-level Best Warrior Competition, Martinez said he plans to work on his knowledge and fitness to proudly represent himself and his company.

"I plan on doing several mock boards with my squad," Martinez said. "I also plan on focusing a lot of time on PT and ruck marching since the altitude is much higher in Colorado making breathing more difficult."

Martinez said he enjoys competing and encourages others to do the same.

"For junior enlisted Soldiers, I encourage you to participate in competitions, whether it be the BWC or a company board," said Martinez. "It will put your name out there, show your potential as a Soldier and leader, and inspire others to follow in your footsteps. It's not easy, but stepping out of your comfort zone can lead you to achieve great things."

Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Sutherland, 1st Space Brigade command sergeant major, agrees that competing is good for Soldiers.

"I view life as a competition, and Soldiers always want to compete to be the best," said Sutherland. "This competition allows them not only to compete against the best across SMDC but to unleash those Warrior skills that they may not practice or use on a regular basis. It's getting back to a Warrior mind set at the highest level.

"Every year our competitors get better and better with the bar being raised with that true Warrior spirit," said Sutherland. "We were represented well last year, and I believe all the competitors are taking those lessons and applying them this year. It's going to make for a great overall competition in May."