FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Fifteen Pennsylvania Army National Guard Soldiers from around the state competed in the 2022 state Best Warrior Competition April 11-14.
The Soldiers competed in nine events designed to test their physical and mental endurance: night land navigation, a medical event, a written exam, a mystery event, weapons zero and qualification, the obstacle course, the Army Combat Fitness Test, a 12-mile ruck march, and finally, a leadership/appearance board.
Spc. Brandon Mitchell, with the 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, won the best Soldier portion of the competition. Staff Sgt. Jesse Picklo, with the 1-109th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Combat Brigade, won the best noncommissioned officer portion of the competition. Sgt. 1st Class James Cummings, with the 166th Regiment Regional Training Institute, won the Command Sgt. Maj. Jay H. Fields NCO Leadership award.
“Your hard work and your efforts have paid off; it’s your job now to carry that torch forward,” said Brig. Gen. Laura McHugh, Pennsylvania’s deputy adjutant general-Army.
The Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the warrior ethos, and represent the force of the future. The challenges featured a mix of physical and mental tasks, assessing basic soldiering skills not unique to any military occupational specialty.
“You have been selected to represent the best our brigades and O-6 level commands have to offer, so no matter what, you should be proud of what you’ve done to get to this point,” said Pennsylvania Senior Enlisted Leader Sgt. Maj. Jon Worley.
“I’m elated. We all put in a lot of hard work this week and all the competitors pushed me to be my best,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell and Picklo said the best part of the competition was meeting the other Soldiers from around the state.
“It was a physical challenge and a mental challenge,” said Picklo. “You couldn’t just be good at one thing. You had to be an overall well-rounded Soldier.”
Mitchell and Picklo will represent Pennsylvania in the regional Best Warrior Competition at Camp Dawson near Kingwood, West Virginia, May 18-20.
The competitors for Soldier of the Year were:
Spc. Justin Bianconi, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th Infantry Division; Spc. Amy Chen, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade; Cpl. Jason Ciesielski, 109th Infantry Regiment, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; Spc. Brandon Mitchell, 337th Engineer Battalion, 55th MEB Spc. Tyler Rietheimer, 108th Field Artillery Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team; and Cpl. John Stibrik, 110th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Combat Brigade.
The competitors for Noncommissioned Officer of the Year were:
Sgt. Byron Ansell, 1-135th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 28th ECAB; Sgt. Timothy Bean, 728th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 213th Regional Support Group; Staff Sgt. Victoria McCallum, 1-109th Field Artillery Regiment, 55th MEB; Staff Sgt. Jesse Picklo, 1-109th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Combat Brigade; Staff Sgt. Timothy Yoder, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th ID.
The competitors for the Command Sgt. Maj. Jay H. Fields award were:
Sgt. 1st Class James Cummings, 166th Regiment Regional Training Institute; Sgt. Glenn Knight, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, 28th ECAB; Sgt. Grey Rockey, 103rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 56th SBCT; and Staff Sgt. Matthew Wacker, 876th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd IBCT.