SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Seventeen elite Soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) and Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG) competed to be named best of the best at the 2019 Best Warrior Competition, here, March 1-3. BWC is jointly operated between the Army Reserve and the HIARNG. However, the 9th MSC has taken the lead in planning this years' event.

"It allows Soldiers to test their skills that they've learned and builds confidence within them that they can do these tasks and skills in a challenging environment, so that they know, should we have to go to war, that they're trained and ready to go," said Stewart Coupe, Operations Sgt. Maj., and competition planner.

"It's a good training event. Soldiers came from various units from Korea, Guam, Saipan, and Samoa. It gives them a chance to meet other competitors from other units that they normally wouldn't see," said Sgt. 1st Class Dale Kearney, the main organizer of BWC.

The Army Reserve winners were Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Sgt. Christopher Hadley, Bravo Co., 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment and Soldier of the Year Spc. John Aquino, Echo Co., 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment.

Hadley was ecstatic about being selected as the NCO of the Year.

"It definitely feels good just to show my leadership. I'm a product of the training and leadership," he said. "It was both physically and mentally challenging, but more so mentally, because physically, you can just push through."

Aquino was equally excited.

"I feel great," he said. "The three days (of the competition), that's what we do as infantry. So it was in our ballpark."

However, he did have to overcome some challenges.

"I never shot a 9 mil...the other challenge was hand signals," he noted.

They and their fellow Soldiers competed in various events. The competition included a physical fitness test, written and appearance board, road march, Army warrior tasks, land navigation, and weapons qualifications.

To one Soldier, Staff Sergeant Paulo Napoles from the Hawaii National Guard Recruiting Retention Battalion, having competitions such as BWC is important.

"You get to test yourself among the Soldiers and other NCOs. It gives you an insight on where you stack up," he said. "If you want to be the best warrior, you've got to put in the work to become one."

"Feeling uncomfortable brings out the best in you," he added.

The Army Reserve winners will advance to compete in the US Army Reserve Command BWC at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, June 23-29. Subsequently, the two winners from that competition will compete against winners from the major Army commands in October at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.