Fort Knox and U.S. Army Cadet Command held a joint competition May 21-23 to name the installation and Cadet Command Soldier and NCO of the Year.
Sixteen soldiers competed -- eight each from Fort Knox and Cadet Command -- in basic warrior tasks to include an oral board and 12-mile ruck march. The series of events are designed to test Soldiers both physically and mentally, and keep them on their toes.
Sergeant 1st Class David McClain, of 1st Brigade, Cadet Command, said the contest was not what he expected.
"I came here thinking it was going to be a cookie-cutter event, and there have definitely been events that have been very challenging and tough to compete against," he said.
Fellow Cadet Command noncommissioned officer Sgt. 1st Class Matthew T. Sanders, from 2nd Brigade, agreed.
"The Best Warrior competition is not what I expected it to be," he said. "It's exciting! There's a variety of tasks that challenge you mentally and physically. It puts me out of my comfort zone, particularly with some of the non-infantry related tasks."
Sanders said there is one area in which he expected to excel.
"The physical stuff, it's my specialty -- maybe not so much the intellectual stuff. But you know, I can overcome that," he said.
Best Warrior is designed to be competitive, but many of the Soldiers said they also found camaraderie to be a key component in getting through the grueling three days.
"I tell you, it is very challenging. It's pushing me to my limits, but I like the camaraderie that we're building between the competitors, and we're definitely taking the time to help each other out and learn from each other's experiences," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Eichelberger, representing U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
"It's been challenging so far," said Pfc. Bjorn Jacobson, from 1st TSC. "It's definitely been a lot of things I didn't expect; it's been a close race. I can't wait to find out who the winners are."
Jacobson won Soldier of the Year for Fort Knox, Sgt. 1st Class Blayne Peterson won NCO of the Year. For Cadet Command, Sanders won NCO of the Year and Spc. Andrew Pena earned Soldier of the Year.
The Cadet Command winners will move on to the command level event at TRADOC where they will compete for two spots at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command competition later in the year.WINNERS FOR THE FORT KNOX 2018 BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION ARE:
Fort Knox Soldier of the Year: Pfc. Bjorn Jacobson, 1st TSC
Fort Knox NCO of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Blayne Peterson, HRC
Cadet Command Soldier of the Year: Spc. Andrew Pena, USACC, HHD
Cadet Command NCO of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Matthew T. Sanders, 2BDE (Dickinson)