FORT LEE, Va. (June 4, 2018) -- Three days of competitive events including weapons qualification, ruck march, common Soldier tasks and board appearances came to an end May 23 as Ultimate Warrior -- CASCOM'S all-encompassing Soldier skills showcase -- wrapped up its eight year of competition.

The winners were: Sgt. 1st Class Jamorey Bailey, Ordnance School -- drill sergeant of the year; Staff Sgt. Francisco Tafoya, Quartermaster School -- instructor of the year; Pfc. Brian Fitzgerald, Quartermaster School -- Soldier of the year; Staff Sgt. Joel Demillo, Army Logistics University -- noncommissioned officer of the year.

Ultimate Warrior is an all-encompassing Soldier skills showcase in the same vein as the Sergeant Major of the Army's Best Warrior meet, held annually in the fall at Fort A.P. Hill. Both competitions test competencies in several areas -- fitness, marksmanship, land navigation, first aid, communication and other common tasks -- deemed essential to a war-fighter's success, especially on the battlefield.

The CASCOM meet included subcategory competitions for Soldier of the Year, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Instructor of the Year; and Drill Sergeant/Advanced Individual Training Platoon Sergeant of the Year. The sustainment community was well-represented with competitors from the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation branches, the Army Logistics University and the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Laudman, the chief coordinator of this year's 8th annual event, said the Soldiers who stepped up to compete admirably represented themselves and their units.

"The participants were highly motivated and highly qualified," said the operations noncommissioned officer, CASCOM G3/5/7. "It was a very competitive event."

So competitive, in fact, only a few points separated the top three participants in one particular category, said Laudman.

Staff Sgt. Joel Demillo, the 2017 CASCOM NCO of the Year and a return competitor, was among the many who said they entered Ultimate Warrior to better themselves as Soldiers and individuals.

"There's always room for improvement," said Demillo, a representative of ALU. "Even if you're at the top of your game, there's always a little more you can do."

Ultimate Warrior kicked off with the Army Physical Fitness Test on May 21 and was followed later in the day by tasks relating to medical assistance, communications, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response. A general military knowledge examination wrapped up the day's activities.

On May 22, the Soldiers tried their hands at weapons assembly/reassembly and later weapons qualification. Participants completed a 12-mile ruck march later in the evening. Many said it was the most challenging task, including the Ordnance School's Staff Sgt. Kasim Kennerly, who noted his 5-foot-3-inch stature was no help.

"I had to take a lot more steps (compared to others)," joked the instructor of the year competitor. "It was tough."

Kennerly completed the event in 2 hours, 55 minutes -- well under the 4-hour time limit.

On the final day of competition, participants ventured out into pre-dawn darkness to complete a land navigation course and later donned Army Service Uniforms for board appearances. That event included the presence of CASCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee, who served as president of the board and who likely participated in his last such event. He is scheduled to retire later this summer.

Those who earn the title of Ultimate Warrior in their respective categories will move on to the Training and Doctrine Command level of the competition scheduled for the summer. The Soldier and NCO winners at that level will advance to the Department of the Army meet that brings the best of the best from major commands around the world in a showdown that typically garners national publicity and on-site visits by senior Department of Defense officials.