CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y.--Two New York City members of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, are the Best Warriors in the New York Army National Guard for 2018.
Spc. Ilya Titov, an infantryman assigned to Alpha Company and a Rockaway Park resident, was the winner in the junior enlisted competition, which covers Soldiers in the ranks from private to specialist.
Sgt. Quentin Davis, a signal support systems specialist in Headquarters Company, was the winner in the non-commissioned officer category, which covers sergeants, staff sergeants and sergeants first class. Davis is an Astoria, Queens, resident.
The two earned top honors after a five-day competition held April 18-22 at Camp Smith. Eight Soldiers competed from commands spanning the New York Army National Guard.
The evaluated tasks, specifically designed to mirror today's operating environment, included urban warfare simulations, a 12-mile march, Soldier tasks and battle drills, marksmanship and board interviews, physical fitness tests, and written exams.
The Soldiers also had the opportunity to compete and earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge thanks to an arrangement with the German Army Liaison Office at the United States Military Academy. West Point is located just across the Hudson River from Camp Smith.
The competition was physically demanding, the Soldiers said.
"You have to prepare and give it all you got," said Titov. "You can't just sit and wait for it to come; you have to prepare for it, you have to be on top of it."
Davis emphasized that it also took mental concentration as well.
"You see the schedule, and what it entails, and know you have to get up and be ready for each event," Davis said.
The two winners will advance to the National Guard's Regional-level competition scheduled for May 16-20 at Camp Smith.
The Soldiers competing for the title of 'Best Warrior' made it through prior battalion and brigade competitions to qualify for the state-level event.
Also competing were:
- Staff Sgt. Michael Kostelnik, a New York City resident and a member of the 106th Regional Training
Institute at Camp Smith.
- Sgt. Sky Taylor, an Astoria resident assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 42nd Combat
Aviation Brigade in Latham.
- Sgt. Alexander Sheldon, from Ballston Spa, a member of the 466th Area Support Medical Company in
- Sgt. Caitlin Johnson, a Johnstown resident who belongs to Headquarters Detachment, 104th Military
Police Battalion in Kingston.
- Sgt. Nicole Raterman, a Syracuse resident assigned to Headquarters Company of the 204th Engineer
Battalion in Binghamton.
- Spc. Robert Marino, a Franklin Square resident who serves in the 107th Military Police Company in
According to Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski, who oversaw the annual competition, it represented a broad spectrum of top men and women from across the state of New York.
Piwowarski is the senior enlisted advisor to New York Army National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Ray Shields.
"Soldiers like to be challenged as individuals, and a lot of time they excel, and this is an opportunity for them to show what they can do," Piwowarski said.
The competition tested each Soldier in various events such as:
- Ten "hands-on" Army warrior tasks.
- The Army Physical Fitness Test.
- Day and night land navigation.
- Stress shooting.
- An appearance board.
- A 12-mile road march.
In the past, the road march, in which Soldiers carry a 25-pound load and a weapon, was held at Camp Smith. This year it was held at the United States Military Academy at West Point and finished at the Fort Putnam historic site high above the Hudson River.
This marked the third year that the competitors also had the opportunity to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.
The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is one of the few approved foreign awards American service members can wear. The first phase consist of the basic fitness test, which included an 11x10 meter sprint, chin-ups, and 1000-meter run.
The best warrior competitors were scored in all phases of the competition and competed for the gold, silver and bronze award.
Lt. Col. Michael Breuer, German Army Liaison Officer at the United States Military Academy West Point, awarded the badges to the competitors.
Breuer said that the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge was introduced in 1971 to recognize Soldiers for their excellence in general military and physical performance, and by German Army regulations, a German representative must be present during all event the Soldiers perform.
"Wherever we can conduct the exercise, we try to support as it a great chance to close our relationships between the two nations and strengthen our partnership," Breuer said.