WIESBADEN, Germany -- The winners of the U.S. Army Europe European Best Warrior Competition were announced and awarded an Army Commendation Medal at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, July 31, 2020.
The overall leaders for the officer, noncommissioned officer and Soldier categories were U.S. Army 1st Lt. Quinn Gutierrez, engineer officer, 173rd Airborne Brigade; Staff Sgt. William McLain, explosive ordinance disposal specialist, 16th Sustainment Brigade; and Spc. Justin Rivard, air and missile defense crewmember, 10th Air and Missile Defense Command. Each Soldier was presented their medal by U.S. Army Col. Timothy J. Macdonald, commander, 18th Military Police Brigade, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Abernethy, senior enlisted advisor, U.S. Army Europe.
“The purpose of the Best Warrior Competition in simple terms is to build readiness,” said Abernathy. “We do that by bringing Soldiers, who are the best from all across Europe to compete against one another."
“So, there’s individual effort,” he said, “and we put them together in teams to build team readiness.”
The competitors were challenged through the weeklong event -- much of which was done in three Soldier teams. The competition contained events oriented to test the participants mental and physical capabilities.
These events included the Army Combat Fitness Test, marksmanship and weapons qualifications, operations in a chemical environment, written exams and a knowledge board amongst many other tasks designed to push the competitors to their limits.
By the end of the, the Soldiers collectively completed over 75 warrior tasks and battle drills lanes and walked more than 86 miles.
“The competition felt very challenging -- mentally and physically,” said Rivard. “To go through these events every day, all the walking, hot days and rucking, was very grueling, but for all of it to pay off in the end is a feeling I can almost not describe.”
Along with the heavy gear and weapons the Soldiers carried, they also brought with them their own unique challenges, skills, and most of all motivations. Some came to the competition to demonstrate their physically abilities or set a good example for their unit, but others had more humbling motivations.
“I just hope it’s a real example to my guys,” said Guiterrez. “We always say that the Soldiers are a direct representation of us, so this is the natural step. Me being able to model for them what I expect them to be, and that is experts in everything we do.”
The competition rewards Soldiers for their leadership skills and their ability to step to the plate when the time calls for it. This quality is exemplified in the unexpected entrance McLain made into the competition.
“Originally, I was assigned to be a sponsor for four Soldiers,” said McLain. “We were about two hours away from being on ground here in Hohenfels when one of my Soldiers got a phone call saying he had family issues and unfortunately he had to be pulled from the competition. My first sergeant then called me and said the option was mine to step up and take his place in the competition -- I willingly accepted.”
Both McLain and Rivard are scheduled to go on to represent U.S. Army Europe at the Department of the Army-level competition later this year. Before returning to their units, however, they gave some parting advice to any Soldier who may be thinking of competing next year.
“Don’t stop,” said Rivard. “If you’re back in your home unit and you’re thinking about doing this, stop thinking and just do it. Never give up, commit and persevere no matter what.”