By Spc. Roger Houghton, 20th Public Affairs DetachmentMay 25, 2018
Warriors from across the land of the morning calm gathered in the rugged hills of Camp Casey, South Korea to compete for the title of best warrior in the 2018 Eighth Army Best Warrior Competition May 13-17.
The competition was held to select the best junior enlisted, noncommissioned officer, warrant officer, commissioned officer and Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldier from across the peninsula. The competitors hailed from every major command and represent an array of military occupations, from 68E Dental Specialist to 11A Infantry Officer.
Soldiers representing 2nd Infantry Division/R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Division bested their counterparts from across the peninsula to take not only the Best NCO and junior enlisted titles, but the best officer and warrant officer titles as well.
Cpl. Jacob Bee, a competitor assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division as part of rotational forces supporting 2nd RUCD and Sgt. 1st Class Terrance Widmer, a competitor assigned to 2nd RUCD, were selected above their peers and will go on to represent the Eighth Army in the U.S. Army Pacific Best Warrior Competition held in June at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. They were recognized during the Eighth Army Best Warrior Competition closing ceremony.
"The stress shoot was definitely a big challenge," said Bee. "We had a division competition, but this was much more stressful. You had to really focus on the fundamentals instead of being able to wing it."
Warrant Officer David Hobart, assigned to 2nd RUCD, 1st Lt. James Reed, assigned to 2nd RUCD as part of rotational forces, and Pfc. Kim, Do, from 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade were recognized as the 'best of the best' among their peers within Korea. They were also recognized during the closing ceremony with the presentation of certificates of appreciation.
"This was an excellent competition," said Sgt. 1st Class Widmer. "All of these competitions are a test of fortitude and execution among all of the individuals to see what we're capable of. Representing Eighth Army at the USARPAC Best Warrior Competition is a great opportunity."
Sgt. Maj. Michael Mancuso, Eighth Army G3 Operations sergeant major, addressed the competitors at the competition's closing ceremony.
"You are the elite group of 34 warriors," said Mancuso. "You were chosen from over 28,000 soldiers across the peninsula to represent the seven Major Subordinate Commands within Eighth Army."
During the six-day competition, the competitors faced events ranging from long-distance tactical marches through rugged terrain, land navigation during the day and night, water and physical fitness events and an appearance in front of a board of senior leaders.
"Not only did these tasks challenge your skills," said Mancuso. "You were also challenged by time and weather throughout this competition."
Also included were a mystery event, which tested Soldiers on their ability to perform a call for indirect fire support and a media engagement scenario where Soldiers conducted an on-camera interview with a simulated news agency.
Staff Sgt. Elijah Chabo, a competitor assigned to 293rd Signal Company, 1st Signal Brigade, recalled the overall difficulty of the competition.
"I struggled with some of the events, while I excelled during others," said Chabo. "This is the best that Eighth Army has to offer, and all of the competitors are trying to do their best."
Despite the heat, fatigue and physical and mental challenges they faced, each of the 34 Soldiers remained motivated and pushed through in their attempt to earn the title of best warriors.
Eighth Army senior leaders said they were proud of the all the competitors' efforts and the spirit they showed throughout the arduous competition.
"It doesn't stop here," said Sgt. Maj. Mancuso. "The top soldier and non-commissioned officer will go on to the next level of the competition. Your training has not stopped. We're going to go up to USARPAC and we're going to win that one as well."