CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea—A week of constant movement, continuous stress and unending perspiration is grueling for many, but for two of Eighth Army’s top Soldiers it’s just another day at the office. One of the competitor’s efforts proved to be the best in the U.S. Army Pacific.
Spc. Hwui Yoo, Company A, 719th Military Intelligence Battalion, won in the junior enlisted category of the 2020 USARPAC Best Warrior Competition. Yoo and Sgt. 1st Class James Smith, 557th Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion, who competed in the noncommissioned officer category, bested their competition at the Eighth Army level before competing at the USARPAC BWC Aug. 24-31, 2020.
Yoo’s next mission is the 2020 Army Best Warrior Competition where he will compete against junior enlisted members from across the Army later this year.
The USARPAC BWC 2020 is an annual, week-long competition including competitors from across the Pacific. Normally conducted in Hawaii, this year’s event took place at individual competitors’ duty locations across the Indo-Pacific region due to COVID-19.
The noncommissioned officers and junior-enlisted competitors faced off in several categories that test their general military knowledge, basic Soldiering skills and physical fitness.
The competition started early Aug. 24 before the sun rose with an Army Combat Fitness Test.
“My favorite part is the sprint, drag, carry. It’s quick and easy, and I really enjoy it,” said Yoo. “I worked out a lot in the gym to prepare for it. I do weights, and hit a bike or run to get my cardio in.”
Competitors later met at the range to qualify on the Army’s new sidearm, the SIG Sauer M-17 service pistol. The competitors demonstrated engagement proficiencies by firing at 30 targets, while in standing and kneeling positions and while moving toward other targets.
“I love the new M-17,” said Smith. “As military police, we shoot the M-9 Beretta and the M-17 is definitely an upgrade with an improved grip and recoil reduction.”
The competitors next moved to the Engagement Skills Trainer 3000 Simulator for the M-4 qualification range. They engaged single and multiple threats at varying ranges from supported and unsupported standing, kneeling, and prone positions during day and limited visibility simulated conditions.
“Any day at the range is a good day,” said Smith. “It’s great to come out here and show off my shooting skills.”
Early the next day, Smith and Yoo stepped off for a 12-mile ruck march. A standard Army ruck march consists of finishing 12 miles in under three hours with a 35lbs load. During the ruck march, to add another level of difficulty, the competitors had to memorize 12 unknown items. When the march was finished, they were given a few minutes to write down what they believed they had found.
“It means a lot to me to come out here,” said Yoo. “Not only is this a chance to excel among my peers but also an opportunity to learn a lot of great lessons to bring back to my unit and practice my basic Soldier tasks.”
To finish off the week, the competitors were evaluated on their military knowledge in front of a virtual board. This also gives the evaluators the ability to see how competitors demonstrate military bearing.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, Eighth Army’s senior enlisted advisor, lauded the Eighth Army competitors’ efforts and hopes that other Soldiers strive to emulate the high standards they set.
“I’m extremely proud of all the Soldiers who competed,” said Cobb. “It’s not an easy competition and the results show that Eighth Army sets high standards. It’s also comforting to me, as a leader, to know Soldiers like Yoo and Smith are in our formation.”