FORT BLISS, Texas - Pfc. Seyi Hunsa, a cannon crewmember assigned to 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and whose hometown is Burgaw, North Carolina, exits a tunnel and races to complete the final portion of the Fort Bliss obstacle course during the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The obstacle course included climbing ropes, scaling barriers and events which tested the Soldier’s ability to maintain composure and confidence at height. The competition pitted 10 competitors representing each of 1AD’s brigades against each other through a series of physical and mental tasks, concluding with an interview conducted by the division operations sergeant major, in order to determine the division’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. This year's competition was won by Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B,  2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and native of Naperville, Illinois, and Spc. Gage Paraschos, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV whose hometown is Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, after they displayed their excellence in skills, knowledge and physical fitness. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus)
FORT BLISS, Texas - Pfc. Seyi Hunsa, a cannon crewmember assigned to 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and whose hometown is Burgaw, North Carolina, exits a tunnel and races to complete the final portion of the Fort Bliss obstacle course during the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The obstacle course included climbing ropes, scaling barriers and events which tested the Soldier’s ability to maintain composure and confidence at height. The competition pitted 10 competitors representing each of 1AD’s brigades against each other through a series of physical and mental tasks, concluding with an interview conducted by the division operations sergeant major, in order to determine the division’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. This year's competition was won by Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and native of Naperville, Illinois, and Spc. Gage Paraschos, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV whose hometown is Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, after they displayed their excellence in skills, knowledge and physical fitness. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) VIEW ORIGINAL
FORT BLISS, Texas - Spc. Gage Paraschos, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, scales a wooden barrier during the obstacle course event of the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. Paraschos is competing among the top Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers during the competition, which tests the endurance, Soldier skills, competence and fitness of each contestant in order to determine this year's Soldier and NCO of the year. Paraschos won this year's competition for Soldier of the Year along with NCO of the Year winner Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a native of Naperville, Illinois and cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2-13 CAV, representing the determination that defines 1AD's dedication to excellence. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus)
FORT BLISS, Texas - Spc. Gage Paraschos, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, scales a wooden barrier during the obstacle course event of the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. Paraschos is competing among the top Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers during the competition, which tests the endurance, Soldier skills, competence and fitness of each contestant in order to determine this year's Soldier and NCO of the year. Paraschos won this year's competition for Soldier of the Year along with NCO of the Year winner Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a native of Naperville, Illinois and cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2-13 CAV, representing the determination that defines 1AD's dedication to excellence. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) VIEW ORIGINAL
FORT BLISS, Texas - Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and native of Naperville, Illinois, climbs a wooden ladder as part of the Fort Bliss obstacle course during the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The obstacle course was conducted after a 12-mile ruck march and the Army Combat Fitness Test, pitting the competitors through a final grueling physical event designed to test their physical and mental resiliency as well as perseverance. The obstacle course included climbing ropes, scaling barriers and balance obstacles, most of which included an element of heights in order to test a Soldier’s confidence and resolve. The competitors completed the course in the best possible time, with their results being combined with the other events, and an interview with the division operations sergeant major, which collectively tested their physical endurance, competence, and Soldier skills in order to determine the 1AD Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. Ferrone won the competition along with Spc. Gage Paraschos, a native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania and cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV, demonstrating continued excellence and determination which represents the very best of 1AD. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus)
FORT BLISS, Texas - Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and native of Naperville, Illinois, climbs a wooden ladder as part of the Fort Bliss obstacle course during the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The obstacle course was conducted after a 12-mile ruck march and the Army Combat Fitness Test, pitting the competitors through a final grueling physical event designed to test their physical and mental resiliency as well as perseverance. The obstacle course included climbing ropes, scaling barriers and balance obstacles, most of which included an element of heights in order to test a Soldier’s confidence and resolve. The competitors completed the course in the best possible time, with their results being combined with the other events, and an interview with the division operations sergeant major, which collectively tested their physical endurance, competence, and Soldier skills in order to determine the 1AD Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. Ferrone won the competition along with Spc. Gage Paraschos, a native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania and cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV, demonstrating continued excellence and determination which represents the very best of 1AD. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) VIEW ORIGINAL
FORT BLISS, Texas - Iron Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division prepare to begin a 12-mile ruck march as part of the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The competitors each had to carry a 35-pound rucksack over a predetermined course at Fort Bliss as fast as they could, with the finishers ranging from a time of 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours for completion. The ruck march was the first event of the competition, setting the stage for the Soldiers as they competed for the titles of 1AD Soldier of the year and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. This year's competition was won by Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a native of Naperville, Illinois and cavalry scout assigned to Troop B,  2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, and Spc. Gage Paraschos, a native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania and cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV, who demonstrated their knowledge, skills, physical fitness and perseverance throughout the competition, representing 1AD's continued dedication to excellence. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus)
FORT BLISS, Texas - Iron Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division prepare to begin a 12-mile ruck march as part of the 1AD Best Warrior Competition, May 15. The competitors each had to carry a 35-pound rucksack over a predetermined course at Fort Bliss as fast as they could, with the finishers ranging from a time of 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours for completion. The ruck march was the first event of the competition, setting the stage for the Soldiers as they competed for the titles of 1AD Soldier of the year and Noncommissioned Officer of the year. This year's competition was won by Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a native of Naperville, Illinois and cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, and Spc. Gage Paraschos, a native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania and cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2-13 CAV, who demonstrated their knowledge, skills, physical fitness and perseverance throughout the competition, representing 1AD's continued dedication to excellence. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Matthew Marcellus) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BLISS, Texas – Looks of relief and hints of jubilant smiles flashed across Iron Soldiers’ faces as they exhaustedly finished the physical portion of the 1st Armored Division Best Warrior Competition (BWC), May 15.

Spc. Gage Paraschos, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and native of Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, and Staff Sgt. James Ferrone, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 2-13 CAV and native of Naperville, Illinois, were announced as the 1AD Soldier of the Year and 1AD Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively, June 11.

This year’s competition included a gauntlet of physical events, consisting of a 12-mile ruck march followed by the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) and the completion of the Fort Bliss obstacle course during the course of a day. The competition also included an interview with Sgt. Maj. Joseph Denny, the 1AD operations sergeant major and native of Franklin, Indiana, in order to determine the top Soldier and NCO within the division.

“As a Soldier, winning the competition has meant a lot to me. I love competition and I always strive to be the best,” said Ferrone. “I was really excited to have the opportunity to compete with the whole division, and winning this has really made me proud.”

As winners of the 1AD competition, Paraschos and Ferrone will represent the division at the III Corps Best Warrior Competition. They will showcase the excellence and determination that defines 1AD and Iron Soldiers across the division, setting a strong example for their Soldiers and peers.

“Staff Sgt. Ferrone and Spc. Paraschos represent the best of the Iron Soldiers. They are physically fit, mentally tough and resilient, and they showcase 1AD’s ability to rapidly deploy in support of land operations in order to deter or defeat our enemies,” said Denny. “They proved that they are ready for any challenge presented to them. They understand their mission and they set the example for other Soldiers during the BWC this year.”

Competitors in the 1AD BWC had their physical endurance, agility and resiliency as well as their mental toughness tested throughout the competition, ensuring that the winners fully represented the perseverance, dedication and determination which are paramount to 1AD’s identity. The competitors were allotted approximately one hour of rest in between each of the demanding physical events, ensuring that they were tested to their personal limits.

“The most difficult part for me was the ACFT’s two mile run after the 12 mile ruck. For me, my feet were moving and I was trying to move, but I was hurting at that point,” said Ferrone. “I gave everything that I could, one foot after the other and I did the best that I could.”

These challenges allowed for the competitors to focus on their resolve and resiliency, as they fought exhaustion and strained to reach new limits.

“Participating in the 1AD BWC has prepared me physically and taught me how to push myself,” said Paraschos. “With all of the physical events all in one day, the obstacle course, the 12-mile ruck and the ACFT, doing those side by side showed me how far I could go.”

Participation in the BWC offers a chance for Soldiers across the division to prove to themselves and their peers the results of the countless hours of work and study that they have put in to become the best Soldiers that they can be.

“Competitions such as the BWC inspire Soldiers and leaders to do their absolute best, as well as to learn from each other and mentor others,” said Denny. “Standing out from the pack is difficult to achieve, which is why Staff Sgt. Ferrone and Spc. Paraschos should be applauded for their successes. Truly great NCOs and Soldiers rarely enjoy the spotlight for their achievements, but it is vital to morale and esprit de corps to recognize talent, ambition and greatness when it is found.”

Winning the BWC has also provided ample opportunities for the winners to demonstrate leadership qualities to their peers and fellow Soldiers as they continue to train and exercise.

“I think winning the NCO of the year greatly impacts my Soldiers, as now they see me working out every day and exercising them for physical training as well,” said Ferrone. “For my squad physical training, we’re working out with equipment, doing lots of ruck marches and bodyweight exercises.”

As Paraschos and Ferrone continue to train to excel as the 1AD Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year, they recognize that they set examples for their peers and Soldiers to follow. As the Soldier and NCO of the Year, Paraschos and Ferrone have significant opportunities and responsibilities as leaders representing 1AD.

“With the title of Soldier and NCO of the Year, there comes the expectation that they represent themselves at the highest caliber to their peers, subordinates, and senior leaders, representing the Soldier's Creed, Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer, Army Values and the 1st Armored Division standards,” said Denny. “With that responsibility comes great opportunity to prove themselves as leaders and set the example for the future of our Army.”

The III Corps Best Warrior Competition was held June 22-25. For information about the competition, check out the Fort Hood website.