FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- After more than four days and nights of grueling competition, two Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) warriors from the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command's 21st Signal Brigade have earned the title as ARCYBER's best for 2018.

East St. Louis, Illinois native Sgt. 1st Class Deon Myers of the 302nd Signal Battalion was named Best Warrior NCO of the Year, and Groton, Vermont's Spc. Tyler Gadapee of the 114th Signal Battalion was named Best Warrior NCO of the Year in a ceremony here, Aug. 16.

The pair will go on to represent ARCYBER at the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., and the Pentagon, Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, 2018.

There the cyber warriors will compete against Soldiers from across the Army who, like them, had to win multiple unit and command competitions against colleagues who are among the Army's finest.

Each of those competitions is engineered to be physically and mentally challenging. Most -- and ARCYBER's is no exception -- comprise a minimum of several rigorous tasks, including an appearance before a board of sergeants major; an Army Physical Fitness Test; a series of Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills; an obstacle course; a written essay; a 12-mile road march; day and night land navigation courses; qualification with an array of weapons; a stress shoot challenge; and a "mystery event."

"Make no mistake about it; this isn't just about impressing a board with a few memorized answers," said ARCYBER Command Sgt. Major Sheryl D. Lyon of the competition here. "This is a tough week of challenges designed to measure the whole warrior -- tactical Soldier skills, intellect, physical readiness and stamina, Army values, demeanor and attention to detail. And I have no doubt these Soldiers are up to the challenge."

In addition to Myers and Gadapee, those Soldiers included Pfc. Cameron Burgess from Monticello, Indiana, assigned to the 911th Technical Rescue Engineering Company, U.S. Army Military District of Washington; Spc. Alexander Musarra from Miami, Florida, assigned to the 782nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Cyber), 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber), U.S. Army Intelligence & Security Command; Staff Sgt. Kenwyn Peters from Tinton Falls, New Jersey, assigned to the 289th Military Police Company, Military District of Washington; and Staff Sgt. Melanie Wahl from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, assigned to the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, U.S. Army Intelligence & Security Command.

So why would any Soldier volunteer to take on the grueling Best Warrior challenge -- repeatedly? Interestingly, the three Soldiers and three NCOs who competed in the ARCYBER event -- diverse in so many other ways -- expressed very similar reasons.

The Soldiers said competing is a "good way to set myself apart from my peers"; "to prove to everybody what I am capable of" and "to distinguish myself in my unit", while the NCOs said they are motivated by the Soldiers who serve with them.

"I wanted to show my Soldiers 'what right looks like', and even at sergeant first class we're still out here getting it," said Myers.

"My future goals are to take what I learn from these competitions and go back to my guys that are with me, train them up, and get them out here to be in the same position I am in right now," said Myers. "They are our future, they have to know it."

Myers thanked his wife and daughter, as well as his battalion and brigade, for their support in the competition. As he moves ahead to the Army-level event, he said he'll focus on pistol marksmanship and medical-related warrior tasks.

For Gadapee, who thanked his family and said he hopes to be selected for Army Special Forces and earn a Green Beret, the next step is working on his board presence, physical fitness and other related training for the Army competition.

"This is a huge reward and it's really nice to see my hard work is paying off," Gadapee said. "I am looking forward to moving on and I challenge others to compete next year."

In a departure from traditional remarks, ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty stepped into the audience at the ceremony here and talked with the competitors, praising their efforts and asking questions about the competition and how they will apply what they learned here in the future. He also said that while they came to the event from different units, with different backgrounds and jobs, they share a similar goal: to better themselves and their organizations.

"This competition challenges you physically and mentally, and that's what's needed to survive under the toughest condition of all -- combat," Fogarty said. "We have to have leaders who can out-think the enemy while taking care of their Soldiers.

"So we're not only here to recognize you for what you've done over the past four days, but to make sure you take something back to your units," he added. "You'll be better leaders for what you've experienced here."

The ceremony also featured remarks from U.S. Cyber Command senior enlisted leader Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, who said there's no greater title than "best warrior."

"You can do the minimum ... but you've said, 'I want to be part of the Best Warrior Competition. I want to give it everything I have, and be the best person I can be. And I commend you for that," he told the six competitors.

But he said the real point of the competition is to groom young leaders for the greatest task facing servicemembers -- being prepared and preparing their units and colleagues.

"That's what this is all about; making sure that that man or woman to the left and right have the best teammates, the best training, and they're ready," Stalker said.

All the leaders who spoke at the ceremony said that while only two participants are ultimately named "best", every one of this year's competitors is a winner who leads by example.

"I'm truly honored to serve with the Soldiers competing here this week, and I know that there are many more like them among our ranks," said Lyon. "They are the future of the Army, and that future is in very good hands."

Check out additional competition photos and other Army Cyber images at https://www.flickr.com/photos/army-cyber

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