ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Two Soldiers from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe can add “Best Warrior” to their growing list of achievements in their young Army careers.
Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Joachin and Spc. Jason Riley rose above the other 12 competitors in U.S. Communications-Electronics Command’s first-ever Best Warrior Competition, hosted at Aberdeen Proving Ground over four days in early May.
Joachin and Riley, named CECOM’s NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year, respectively, will advance to compete in Army Materiel Command’s Best Warrior Competition this summer.
Joachin, who works in the USAMMC-E optical lab, said he felt “a sense of relief” when he heard his name announced as a winner.
“The competition was fierce and all the preparation I did played a role in the outcome,” he said. “I wanted to win, but I felt a need to win as well. That feeling motivated me with every task each day.”
Best Warrior is an annual competition that tests the aptitude of Soldiers through board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams, urban warfare simulations and other tasks and drills relevant to the Army’s operating environment.
Riley called it both physically and mentally challenging, saying the board interview at the end of the weeklong competition was the hardest part.
“After days of strenuous physical events, I had to refocus myself mentally for the board,” he said. “When I found out I had won my individual competition, I felt honored and proud, knowing that I represented my fellow Soldiers, NCOs and officers at USAMMC-E, as well as my father, with excellence.”
CECOM created the event to replace what was typically just a board interview to choose the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier to better align with the major commands’ Best Warrior and Best Squad competitions, according to Sgt. Maj. Derek Swanson, with CECOM’s G-3/5.
In total, 14 participants from CECOM and the tenant units of APG competed in various events, including the Army Combat Fitness Test, an obstacle course with medical task training included, a 12-mile ruck march, M4 marksmanship stress shoot, day and night land navigation, and finally, a board interview.
“It was a combined singular event, meaning no one knew who was competing against who other than NCOs vs. NCOs and Soldiers vs. Soldiers,” Swanson said.
Along with Joachin and Riley, APG announced Sgt. 1st Class German Sanchez and Spc. William Hulsey as its NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, at the May 12 awards ceremony.
Other AMLC Soldiers who competed included Sgts. 1st Class Tie Wu and Kenneth Merritt, and Sgt. Jason Paglia, all from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency. USAMMA and USAMMC-E are two of AMLC’s three direct reporting units. AMLC’s Sgt. 1st Class David Trujillo served as cadre to the group.
Joachin said the night land navigation was the most challenging part of the competition for him, as it was his first time drilling that specific scenario. Physical training is a regular part of Joachin’s personal readiness plan, so he focused more on the oral board and written exams in his train-up for the competition.
“I stay physically ready, so I felt the need to train my mind as oral boards are known to swing things in your favor or against,” he said. “The next competition will include more of the same preparation, but I will include more physical readiness training.”
Both Joachin and Riley said they are eager to represent CECOM and AMLC when they go to AMC’s event later this year.
“It’s amazing that I’ve made it this far,” Riley said, “and I will do my best to be the best.”