By Ronald BaileyApril 4, 2018
WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Soldiers from Hawaii, Japan and Alaska faced off in the command's Pacific Region Best Warrior Competition March 26-30 in Wahiawa for top honors.
Sgt. Cheyene Wachtendorf, Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion, was named the Noncommissioned Officer Best Warrior and Spc. Fabian Juarez, Detachment D, 1st Space Company, was named the Soldier Best Warrior of the command's Pacific Region based on overall scores.
This year's Pacific Region included three enlisted Soldiers and three NCOs competing in their respective categories. The Soldiers began the competition early on the first day with an Army Physical Fitness Test. The competition followed with written competency tests, essay questions, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile ruck march, M9 and M4 weapon qualifications, and culminated with an oral exam board conducted by command senior NCOs.
For the Soldiers from Alaska and Japan, the warm and humid climate of Oahu proved an immediate difference from the environment the left just hours before.
"On Saturday, it was -10 degrees in Alaska and after eight hours of flight to Hawaii I encountered 70 degree weather, so it was challenging," said Sgt. Bryan Gonzales, a military policeman from the 49th Missile Defense Battalion. "Breathing the air was a bit difficult because of the humidity but was also familiar to me because I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.
Unique to this year's competition, competitors could not bring a sponsor from their home unit. Given the limitation, Company D, 59th Signal Battalion Soldiers, most of whom were themselves former BWC competitors, stepped up to provide that sponsorship. Their sponsorship assured each competitor's administration needs were met and provided them motivation through each of the events.
"Some of the equipment on the packing list we don't have at my unit in Japan so my sponsor leant me his equipment," said Spc. Noah Billingsley from Company E, 53rd Signal Battalion. "He did the ruck march with me. He really just stood by me and did everything with me."
Although the competition is designed to test the mental and physical strength of Soldiers, aspects of competing for Best Warrior also apply directly to the Soldier's normal home station duties as signal, military police and air defenders. Competitor Spc. Fabian Juarez said that the amount of vigilance and attention to detail necessary to compete were crucial elements to apply to their normal duties.
The competitors also encouraged other Soldiers to proactively train for and seek the opportunity to compete in future Best Warrior Competitions.
"The Best Warrior competition is an event that brings your unit's best warriors together to compete to see who is the most mentally fit and physically tough," said Wachtendorf. "A Department of the Army-sponsored event is something you will want to attend to progress your career, and to show yourself exactly what you are made of."
Sgt. Wachtendorf and Spc. Juarez will compete with other SMDC/ARSTRAT Soldiers at the command-level competition June 4-8 in Colorado Springs.