FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The recent First Army Division East quarterly Best Warrior Competition, hosted here by the 4th Cavalry Multifunctional Training Brigade, showcased six of the best Soldiers from across the division's five brigades going head-to-head during the multi-day event.
Soldiers were tested both physically and mentally, pushing their bodies to the limits in events such as a combatives tournament, 12-mile ruck march, stress shoot, U.S. Army Ranger fitness assessment, obstacle course and land navigation course.
"Personally, I actually enjoy doing stuff like this," said Sgt. 1st Class Rafael Morales-Rojas, an observer coach/trainer with 2nd Battalion, 315th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 188th Combined Arms Training Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Morales-Rojas said not only is the competition fun, he also sees it as an opportunity to set himself apart from the average Soldier or OC/T.
"Winning would mean being able to show what your competency levels are as a Soldier and [noncommissioned officer], especially in our roles of teaching and evaluating Soldiers," he said. He doesn't worry too much about awards and recognition, he added, and, as a very competitive person, just getting to say he beat the other senior NCOs and the younger guys would be a huge victory.
Staff Sgt. Chris Taylor, an OC/T from 1st Battalion, 335th Infantry Battalion, 157th Combined Arms Training Brigade, Camp Atterbury, Indiana, agreed.
"I want to win because it's competitiveness," Taylor said. "It has been great coming here to compete against other Soldiers who are just as competitive as I am and see how we all stack up against one another."
Taylor, it turned out, was at the top of the stack. During a ceremony on the final day of the competition, he was named the fourth-quarter best warrior for First Army Division East.
"It's very relieving to know that there is nothing in front of me that I have to worry about, because I expended all of my resources and gave this competition everything I had," he said. "Not until the next level competition anyway."
Taylor -- an infantryman -- said he highly recommends more Soldiers who are in non-combat military occupational specialties to participate in competitions such as Best Warrior.
"Soldiers should give themselves the opportunity to compete in the Best Warrior Competition," agreed Staff Sgt. Richard Hernandez, an OC/T from 188th CATB. "The NCOs that come to these events are the top-tier Soldiers from their units and, if you want to challenge yourself, then come to one of these events."
It won't be easy, he said.
"It's going to be physically and mentally challenging, but it will make you a better person, a better Soldier," he said. "Everyone, I guarantee, will walk away with something, no matter what it is."
The competition was designed for competitors to feel -- regardless of winning or not -- that they accomplished something before they walked away from the event, said Master Sgt. Christopher Henning, the 4th Cavalry MFTB operations sergeant major and NCO in charge of planning the competition.
"Those Soldiers that competed, even if they didn't win the competition, should still be proud in how they performed, because it is physically and mentally demanding," he said, adding that it's a lot to have accomplished in such a short time.
"It's a lot of events packed into roughly 64 hours -- not everybody does that," he concluded. "They should be proud that they represented their brigades well."
Taylor and winners from this year's previous quarterly competitions will move on to compete in the all-First Army competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington next month.