KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – After months of training, studying, and a lot of prayer, Pfc. Samuil Matveev, religious affairs specialist with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, was named the 2021 Installation Management Command Directorate-Europe’s Best Warrior in the ‘Soldier’ category during a ceremony in Ansbach March 3.
“I feel very relieved now that it’s over,” said Matveev. “Since landing in Germany I’ve looked forward to competing to represent my company, and all religious affairs specialists out there. It was a bit of a challenge to go up against the other Soldiers, but I feel good now that I’ve set, or exceeded, the standard.”
Soldiers and non-commissioned officers from the seven garrisons in Europe completed a 10.6-mile foot march, a rifle qualification, land navigation and other hands-on warrior tasks, a written essay, and board interviews with sergeants major from across Europe. The four-day competition took place Feb. 28 through March 3 at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, and is meant to recognize Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the warrior ethos, and represent the force of the future.
“This is an outstanding accomplishment and I am very proud of the work Pfc. Matveev has done,” said USAG RP Commander Col. Vance Klosinski. “Being named the Best Warrior is a true representation of the attitude, work ethic and passion we strive for as a garrison team, and as Soldiers.”
According to the IMCOM-E Best Warrior project officer Master Sgt. Roosevelt Moore, the competition is also meant to improve morale, espirit de corps, promote a spirit of competitiveness throughout the organization, and recognize Soldiers who have outstanding bearing and military knowledge.
Matveev, born in Eastern Europe, but now a Sacramento, Calif., native, said his motivation and drive stem from the gratitude he feels to be able to serve the country that welcomed his family with open arms.
“I’m constantly thankful–regardless of the situation that I’m in,” said Matveev. “When it was tough, I reminded myself of the pride that I felt at my naturalization ceremony, and the pride that I’ll feel to represent and be an example for people in the Army and beyond.”
Matveev adds he could not have gotten through the competition without the support and encouragement of his family and his leaders. He is thankful that he could count on his leaders to push him to exceed all expectations.
“We are proud of both of our garrison representatives for their commitment to the competition and their preparation,” said Capt. Sebastian Armentrout, company commander of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, USAG RP. “Everyone from the command team to their individual supervisors was committed to helping and supporting them. I think that helped motivate them.”
Also representing USAG RP in the competition was Sgt. Ivan Soria, military policeman with the garrison, and native of Katy, Texas. Soria competed in the NCO-category
Matveev and Sgt. David Baker, the NCO-category winner representing USAG Ansbach, were also awarded an Army Commendation Medal for their accomplishment. The Soldiers will move on to compete at the Installation Management Command level in San Antonio, Texas.
“I don’t take any credit for my accomplishments – it all belongs to God who is working through me,” said Matveev. “Anything I do that is praiseworthy is because of Him. I’m hoping I get to continue to represent the garrison and all religious affairs specialists.”