JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Fourteen Army National Guard Soldiers from across the nation are competing in the 2023 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition hosted by the Alaska Army National Guard.
The Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition is a testament to the organization's commitment to excellence and aims to recognize and celebrate the top-performing Soldiers in the nation. These competitors have successfully advanced through brigade and regional levels to represent their respective states at the national level.
Participants undergo rigorous evaluations by leaders who are subject matter experts in their fields. The assessments encompass a wide range of military skills tests, including physical fitness, weapons knowledge, marksmanship, land navigation, general military knowledge and combat water survival.
"The Best Warrior Competition is the most effective way to test individual and unit readiness," said Staff Sgt. Luis Santos, a noncommissioned officer from the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment and a call for fire instructor during the Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition at JBER.
"By overcoming challenges through various skills, obstacles, and mission sets, we can truly hone in on the basic Soldier skills that forge an effective and lethal force. It ultimately boils down to understanding the core basic fundamentals on every aspect of being a lethal Soldier within the United States Army," said Santos.
The competition provides valuable insights and experiences for the competitors, leading to the adoption of new techniques and improvements within their respective units. These advancements contribute to the overall readiness of the Army National Guard.
Winners of this competition will represent the Army National Guard in the U.S. Army Best Squad Competition. This progression allows them to compete against the best Soldiers from across the Army, fostering camaraderie, encouraging personal growth, and providing a larger stage to showcase their abilities.
"I honestly believe that my fellow competitors are the best that the Army National Guard has to offer," said Spc. John Shields, a combat medical specialist assigned to the Iowa Army National Guard, representing Region IV. "We all come from different backgrounds, and because of that, we bring a variety of skill sets and knowledge to the competition, which we share with each other. It doesn't even matter that we are competing against each other for the title of Best Warrior; we have to look at it as the way the Army National Guard trains for the Army Best Squad Competition."
Command Sgt. Maj. John T. Raines, the command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, expressed his admiration for the competition's showcase of excellence.
"To just sit here and look out across these 14 best warriors from all across the Army National Guard, I think of how much of a reward it is just to see this view that we have," Raines said.
The Soldiers, competing July 8-13, are representing the seven regions across the nation:
- Spc. Zakary Toothaker, Maine
- Staff Sgt. Conrad Sheldon, Connecticut
- Spc. Bret Williams, West Virginia
- Staff Sgt. Daniel Abbott, Virginia
- Spc. Jackson Jacobs, Tennessee
- Sgt. Quentin Holden, Georgia
- Spc. John Shields, Iowa
- Staff Sgt. Leo Kerfeld, Minnesota
- Spc. Hunter Gammon, Montana
- Sgt. Danny Tucker, Montana
- Spc. Luke Harrison, Wyoming
- Sgt. Bailey Ruff, South Dakota
- Spc. Quinn Mears, Hawaii
- Sgt. Cooper Hulse, Hawaii