By Maj. Peter BogartApril 20, 2018
CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - The 3rd Infantry Division patch was a frequent sight in the steep hills of Korea where Dog Face Soldiers won three of the five categories at the 2018 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division (RUCD) Best Warrior Competition.
The five-day long competition tested the competitors on their tactical, physical, and mental soldiering skills. The events included a stress shoot, physical fitness test, 12-mile ruck march, combat swimming test, media engagement lane, and a formal board.
The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division is deployed to Korea as the rotational brigade supporting 2ID. The "Raider Brigade" arrived in Korea in February, marking the return of 3rd ID to the Peninsula for the first time since the Korean War.
Winner of the Officer category, 1st Lt. James Reed, a platoon leader assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (2-7 Inf.) and a native of East Islip, NY, trained for the competition while also preparing his infantry platoon for an air assault training mission.
"I was only able to successfully prepare for the Best Warrior because my excellent noncommissioned officers are always able to meet my intent, and operate within that intent without additional guidance," said Reed. "They fully prepared our Soldiers for the operation, and this showed with our success during that mission," he added.
Sgt. Maj. Joseph Gaskin, the 1st ABCT Brigade Operations Sergeant Major, was responsible for assembling and training the team.
"Upon receiving the opportunity to compete in the competition, the selection process was easy," said Gaskin. "Every formation within the Raider Brigade had many quality, energized, and willing competitors eager for a chance to represent the Brigade."
Gaskin said the real challenge was in selecting the right trainers and training plan on short notice and bringing the competitors from several battalions together as a cohesive team.
"Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Murray (HHC Brigade) and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Wood (2-7 Inf.) quickly rose to the challenge and prepared a first-rate training plan including weapons, medical skills, water survivability, CBRN, fitness, and board preparation training to name a few," said Gaskin. "The training plan facilitated that needed team dynamic where each competitor assisted each other with their individual strengths."
That dynamic was on display throughout the week as the competitors pushed and encouraged each other through each challenging event. The 24 competitors were from 1st ABCT, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Sustainment Brigade, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, and HHBN, 2ID.
Five 1st ABCT Soldiers made up the "Raider" Brigade team and three field artillerymen from 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment competed as part of the team from 210th FA BDE, who they are attached to during the rotation.
Spc. Christepher Colon, a cannon crew member with B Battery, 1-41 FA, was selected for the division competition after winning the 210th FA BDE's Best Warrior Competition. Colon, a native of Chicago who has been in the Army for less than two years, said that the 12-mile ruck march was the hardest event for him, but overall it was a great experience.
"My favorite part was meeting all the other competitors and bonding with them as the competition progressed," said Colon. "I learned a lot from the officers and NCOs who were competing alongside me," he said.
The other winners from 1st ABCT were: Cpl. Jacob Bee, an infantryman with 2-7 Inf. Reg. and Naples, Florida native and Cpl. Tae Heon Song, a Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA) assigned to 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and a Seoul native.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Chang (HHC BDE) was the runner-up in the Warrant Officer category and Sgt. Chad Jessie (2-7 Inf. Reg.) was the runner-up in the NCO category. The winners will be part of the 2nd Infantry Division team at next month's 8th Army Best Warrior Competition, with the winners there moving on to the Pacific Command Best Warrior Competition in Hawaii.