The Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held its annual Best Warrior Competition and Drill Sergeant of the Year May 3-6. Winners were announced during an awards ceremony May 7 at Signal Theater.
Top honors went to: Staff Sgt. Stephen Rose, 551st Signal Battalion, Drill Sergeant of the Year; Staff Sgt. Robert Ortiz, 369th Signal Battalion, NCO of the Year; and Spc. Michael Jordan, 442nd Signal Battalion, Soldier of the Year.
The winners will represent Fort Gordon at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Best Warrior Competition, scheduled to take place in July. In the event that a winner cannot attend, the runner-up will compete in his place.
The four-day competition challenged participants’ mental agility, physical abilities, knowledge of the U.S. Army, and more. Soldiers were tested on day and land navigation, warrior tasks and battle drills, were required to write an essay, endure a grueling 12-mile ruck march, 2.9-mile Marine obstacle course, and appear before a formal board demonstrating their confidence and Army knowledge – none of which the commanding general said was an easy task.
“When you talk about Best Warrior, Best Drill Sergeant of the Year, we are trying to take the standard, accelerate it, and put you against that to see if you rise above,” said Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general.
Hersey commended each person for rising to the challenge of competing, emphasizing that it was designed to be difficult, but rewarding.
“If you got through all of the events, you’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Hersey said. “If you did not, or fell short on a couple of events, take that as a personal challenge to yourself to look to get better.”
Rose went into the competition with the “in it to win it” mentality and said he stayed motivated throughout the competition by imagining his company of Soldiers cheering him on. Beyond that, he wanted to return to his company as the best possible version of himself.
“I worked for many years to overcome an injury that I sustained from a motorcycle accident, so hopefully I show Soldiers that you can overcome any type of adversity in your life,” Rose said.
Ortiz went into the competition thinking “it was anybody’s game,” but gave it his best, and his best won. Offering advice to future warrior competitors, Ortiz said he encourages everyone to give it a try.
“The only way you’re going to know if you’re good at something is by doing it,” he said. “Don’t be hesitant or scared to attempt something. Just do it, and give it your best.”
“Definitely do it, because not a lot of people will raise their hands to do such an event,” Jordan added. “It’s good for you to build confidence within yourself and your career.”