CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah -- Marksmanship, physical endurance, mental agility, leadership, impeccable appearance, toughness, Soldier skills and a never-quit attitude were all qualities that were put to the test recently when eighteen Army Reserve Soldiers from around the country came here to compete in this year's joint command Best Warrior Competition held by the 76th Operational Response Command and the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support).
The annual competition is a preliminary event used by major Army Reserve commands to select the best junior enlisted Soldier and noncommissioned officer in their ranks to move forward and represent their units at the United States Army Reserve Command Best Warrior Competition to be held later this year.
Over the course of four-days the group of 18 warriors endured freezing temperatures, early mornings, late nights and constant mental and physical challenges. Those challenges included the Army Physical Fitness Test, marksmanship on the M4 semi-automatic service rifle and the M9 9mm pistol, day and night land navigation, an eight-mile ruck mark carrying 35-pounds of weight, quality time in the gas chamber, treating a casualty, conducting a specialized mission, an appearance board, weapons assembly and more.
"This competition is important because it allows Soldiers to truly showcase the pinnacle of their individual readiness," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Darlington, command sergeant major, 76th Operational Response Command. "We call it a competition, but what it really is, is each Soldier setting themselves above their peers by showcasing their medical, physical and mental readiness along with their individual warrior skills in the various events that take place over the course of a few days."
One of this year's competitors who clenched the win for the noncommissioned officer category for the 76th ORC was Sgt. Christina Marshall, an administrative specialist and native of Eldersburg, Maryland, assigned to the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Detachment, 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th ORC. "This is definitely a hard competition and it's very challenging," she said. "It has been fun, it's been stressful, but it has also rewarding because there has been a lot of camaraderie between the competitors and the teamwork was amazing."
Teamwork and camaraderie seemed to be something each of the competitors shared over the course of the competition. "I have really enjoyed being surrounded by other noncommissioned officers and Soldiers that are heavily focused on success," said Sgt. Ryan Garvey, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) specialist and native of Ocala, Florida, assigned to the 329th Chemical Company, 92nd Chemical Battalion, 76th ORC. "Overall, this competition has been an excellent experience, it was put together very well and it was very motivating for the competitors."
Other competitors echoed Garvey's comments. "This experience is the best I've had in my Army career," said Army Reserve Spc. Ivan Martinez, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) specialist and native of El Paso, Texas, assigned to the 369th Chemical Company, 450th Chemical Battalion, 76th ORC. "Before coming here, I had never been to Utah, never qualified on a M9 pistol, and I had never been to an admin board in front of five command sergeants major. It's been an eye-opening experience for me and I think everyone here will leave with some new skill or new knowledge they didn't have before."
The competitor's hard-work and enthusiasm did not go unnoticed. "This year the competitors all came with the highest motivation and dedication to showcasing their individual talents and truly to prove that each of them are the best of the best," said Darlington. "Throughout the past few days it became overly apparent that each of them are truly dedicated to the United States Army, the 76th Operational Response Command and the United States Army Reserve."
Darlington concluded by stating that this year's winners may have what it takes to clinch the win at the USARC level competition in June. "I have no doubt in my mind from what I've seen the past three or four days that these Soldiers will represent our organization well at the USARC competition and I would not be surprised if one of them does not come out a winner," he said. "Even if they don't win I think they will represent themselves and the organization in an outstanding fashion."