COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Seven of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s top space warriors faced off June 5-9 to determine who would be named the command’s 2023 Best Warriors.
Following a grueling week of Soldier skills challenges at Peterson Space Force Base and Fort Carson, the winners were announced in a ceremony the final day of the competition.
The Noncommissioned Officer of the Year is Sgt. Jesse De La Torre-Rodriguez, a satellite communications operator and maintainer, 18th Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, Fort Carson, Colorado, and the Soldier of the Year is Pfc. Chase Betsinger, an all source intelligence analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Space Battalion, Fort Carson.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment to have been named the SMDC NCO of the Year,” De La Torre said. “I hope this serves as an example to others to strive to do the same.”
Betsinger said he also felt honored to be named USASMDC’s Soldier of the Year and that he felt like the competitors supported each other throughout the competition.
“The competition challenged us in ways we don’t get in our day-to-day jobs. It was a great way to see where I’m lacking and how I’m excelling,” Betsinger said. “I’m glad to have competed and fully appreciate the opportunity to move forward to the next level of the competition.”
The remaining competitors were Sgt. Kevin Archer, an air defense enhanced early warning operator with 19th Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy; Pfc. Giorgi Pasurishvili, an information technology specialist with 1st Space Brigade, Fort Carson; Sgt. Luis Rios-Colon, a satellite communications operator and maintainer with 4th Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, Fort Carson; Pfc. Damien Suitter, a tactical power generation specialist with 1st Space Battalion, Fort Carson; and Pfc. Daniel Tierney, a utilities equipment repairer with 1st Space Battalion, Fort Carson.
“We have hundreds, maybe well over one thousand Soldiers and NCOs in this command, globally. But what you see today is seven,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Foley, USASMDC command sergeant major. “Only seven. That says a lot about who you are. You could have said, ‘I quit,’ because it was hard. It was very challenging.”
The competitors competed in the Army Combat Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, a 12-mile ruck march, water survival, medical lanes, urban operations, two obstacle courses, weapons qualification, written common Soldier knowledge examination and essay, and an appearance in front of a board consisting of command sergeants major and a master sergeant from across the command.
“I’m sure these seven warriors learned a lot about themselves,” Foley said. “One of the biggest things you learn is about confidence and what your limits are physically and mentally. A competition like this will push you beyond that and you’ll learn a lot about yourself so you continue to grow as a leader and as a person.”
In addition to naming the NCO and Soldier of the Year, the command also named the “Best Squad,” a change to the Best Warrior Competition that was established by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston in 2022.
“When you talk about ‘Best Squad,’ you’re talking about building strong, cohesive teams that are both mentally and physically fit, well-trained, and disciplined. A squad that has grit, resilience, tenacity and the will to compete and win,” Foley said.
The remaining squad members who will represent the command in the U.S. Army Forces Command Best Squad Competition at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Aug. 10-20, are Rios, Pasurishvili and Suitter.
De La Torre and Betsinger received the Meritorious Service Medal, and Rios, Pasurishvili and Suitter received the Army Commendation Medal.
“This competition challenged us in various abilities we should know as Soldiers. It also allowed me to get an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses related to these abilities,” De La Torre said. “I had a great deal of fun participating in this competition and enjoyed the various challenges we faced.”
Flickr photo sets
Day 1 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/72177720308858629
Day 2 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/72177720308872510
Day 3 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/72177720308894805
Day 4 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/72177720308921115
Day 5 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/armysmdc/albums/72177720308937486