Soldiers of the 311th Signal Command (Theater) held their annual Best Warrior Competition, July 27-29, in which eight of the command’s Soldiers vied for the top spots as this year's Soldier of the year, NCO of the year and Army Reserve Soldier of the year.
The two-day event took place at Ft. Shafter and Schofield Barracks, both on the island of Oahu, with Soldiers from the 311th SC (T) and the 516th Signal Brigade.
For Sergeant Major Randy Gillespie, the 311th SC (T) Command Sergeant Major, this year's competition was a bit different from previous events due to the current pandemic.
"The 2020 311th SC (T) Best Warrior Competition was much different than in the past as it was a two-day event to help mitigate COVID-19 exposure for our Soldiers," Gillespie said. "The end-state was to have a challenging competition to select a NCO and Jr. Enlisted Soldier to represent the Command at the USARPAC Best Warrior Competition. This year’s event definitely met that objective as it was challenging and I know we have some outstanding Soldiers representing the command."
On day one of the competition, Soldiers completed a written examination and essay, stood before a formal board of senior leaders, conducted the Army Combat Fitness Test and took height and weight measurements. The daylong event saw a test of Army knowledge commensurate to each one's rank, along with a test of individual fitness.
Day two of the competition began at Schofield Barracks's Canby Park and saw the most grueling of events for the Soldiers as they prepared and executed a six-mile combat run to the first checkpoint. With each Soldier being individually timed for the duration of the day, the run started with an all-out sprint and soon became a brisk hike for even the fittest.
For Spc. Denise Ann-Marie Duque, G-1 Office, 311th SC (T), the long-distance marching and running was quite a challenge as it showed her mettle and determination to win.
“The most challenging part for me was the rucksack marching because I rolled my ankle a few times,” Duque said. “But I pushed through and I was able to make it to the end.”
The first checkpoint was the M-4 and M-17 weapons qualification in which each Soldier disassembled, reassembled and function checked each weapon under a predetermined time limit. The Soldiers ran several courses of fire with each weapon to ensure a good battle-sight zero and ultimately qualify with rounds on target. Following weapons qualification, the Soldiers proceeded to the second checkpoint which was a communications drill with the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System field radio.
Next, competitors raced checkpoint three, an urban training facility to conduct a simulated medical evacuation. Each competitor traversed urban terrain features with paintball guns to repel enemy fire. Attending to the wounded, the Soldiers applied first-aid techniques and applied field dressings where needed.
The last checkpoint tested each competitors knowledge of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear knowledge of Military Oriented Protective Posture levels. Donned in full MOPP gear, Soldiers conducted a gas chamber exercise to test their mask confidence. Afterward, it was a final dash to the finish with a six-mile run back to where the day began.
The winners of the 2020 311th SC (T) BWC for the active components were Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson for best NCO and Spc. Jalani Sanders for best Soldier. Both winners are assigned to the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
The runner up in the active component Soldier category was Spc. Nelson Feliz from the 30th Signal Battalion. The runner up for best active component NCO was Sgt. Deante J. Brown from the G-1 Office of the 311th SC (T).
The Army Reserve component winners was Spc. Raymond Rosier and the runner up was Spc. Mark-Ryan Visitation. Both Soldiers are assigned to the 311th SC (T) G-1 Office.
As this year’s overall winner of the 311th SC (T) BWC, Johnson feels confident in competing in the 2020 U.S. Army Pacific’s BWC this summer.