By Spc. Mahlet Tesfaye, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs OfficeApril 27, 2010
Six 25th Infantry Division Soldiers tested their physical and mental capabilities in events that a Soldier must be able to do in garrison and combat environments during the division's Best Warrior Competition April 19-22 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
"The best thing about this competition is the professional development you get as a Soldier and as a noncommissioned officer. It makes you a better Soldier and a better leader in the Army, and hopefully you share your knowledge and experience with your Soldiers and leaders within your command," said Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Marrero, command sgt. maj., 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Five men and one woman competed, three for best NCO, and three for best Soldier.
"I decided to participate in this competition for the challenge," said Spc. Chelsea Schievenin, a bandsman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th Special Troops Battalion, and a native of La Grange, Ky. Schievenin said Soldiers become better by challenging themselves and pushing their limits, and gain self-satisfaction by overcoming those limits.
On the first day, the Soldiers appeared in dress uniform before a board of command sergeants major, and answered questions on topics including Army regulations, Army history, weapons, battle-focused training, leadership, and chain of command. They also had a lay-out inspection of all their gear.
"The hardest part for me was the board," said Sgt. Matthew F. Girard, a rifle squad leader with Company C, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and a native of Cambridge, Minn. "The physical challenge has not been difficult, and the lanes were relatively easy," he continued.
The following day the Soldiers took a standard Army Physical Fitness Test, a written exam, and qualified with their M-4 rifle. Over the next two days, Soldiers demonstrated their warrior task knowledge by performing in a stressful environment that simulated a combat zone.
Three teams of one sergeant and one specialist each represented 3rd Brigade, 2nd Brigade, and Special Troops Battalion. At the start of each day at division headquarters, each team was given an order to proceed to a location on base. They ruck marched from one area to another in 'full battle-rattle,' carrying 40 to 50 pounds of gear and their weapon.
When they arrived at their destination, they performed a variety of tasks, including leading a patrol through an area that was reported to have enemy activity. During the patrol, the Soldiers engaged an assailant with a bayonet. They also faced a chemical attack for which the Soldiers donned their protective masks and clothing, and then ruck marched while wearing it.
"The hardest part of the competition for me was putting on the NBC gear. I was not expecting how hot it was going to be and how hard it was going to be, going through my tasks with the gear on," said Schievenin.
The competition also had a surprise mystery event. While helping wounded Soldiers, the participants were attacked by a hostile enemy and had to use their hand-to-hand combative skills to try to take them down.
"Before I started the competition I was anxious to see what I was going to be doing, but now that I have done it, I love it," said Sgt Colin B. Whyte, a combat medic with 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and a native of Barkhamsted, Conn.
Participants also had to do day and nighttime land navigation and give a media interview.
"I knew I would be going up against top competitors from different fields and backgrounds, but I did my best and feel good about the competition," said Spc. Rocky Vires, a sniper with 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and a native of Scottsburg, Ind.
At the awards ceremony April 26, Whyte was selected best NCO, and James was selected best Soldier. They will represent the25th Infantry Division at the U.S. Army-Pacific's (USARPAC) Best Warrior Competition in June.
"I learned what kind of noncommissioned officer I am, and what kind of Soldier I am in terms of being able to identify myself under combat stressful environments -- my decision making process, being able to come to terms with fatigue, injury and pain and just being able to push on through and get through it all," said Whyte.
"I feel very proud and accomplished that I was able to win and I get to go on and represent my division at USARPAC," said Spc. Andy James, a grenadier with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and a native of Leopold, Ind.