SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Nine of the top U.S. Army Reservists from across the Pacific gathered to compete in the 9th Mission Support Command\'s regional Best Warrior Competition, which kicked off here today.

The Reservists, who were chosen by their respective battalion and brigade-level command teams, traveled from locations to include Alaska, American Samoa, Guam and the islands of Hawaii, to compete in the five-day event.

The grueling competition, which determines the Army Reserve-Pacific Soldier of the year and noncommissioned officer of the year, began early this morning with an Army Physical Fitness Test to gauge the Soldiers' endurance and strength. This afternoon, the competitors were drilled on military knowledge by a panel of the command's senior enlisted leaders to determine their mental toughness.

Over the next few days, the Soldiers will be tested on various events to include weapons qualification with a rifle and a pistol; first aid; reaction to indirect fire; and land navigation. They will finish the competition with a timed, six-mile road march equipped with no less than 35 pounds on their backs.

"This competition allows our Soldiers the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents and what they are capable of within the Army Reserve," explained Sgt. Maj. Forrest Wacker, 9th MSC command sergeant major.

Getting to this point was no easy feat. Many of the Soldiers have spent months preparing in hopes of winning the coveted titles.

"I've been doing a lot of physical training, running, pushups and sit-ups," said American Samoa-based Spc. Billy Gibson of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment.

"I've also spent a lot of time brushing up on my basic Soldier skills. I've been going through my study guides and practicing on some of the weapons systems we will be tested on. I really hope I do well."

At the end of the competition, the Soldiers deemed the "best warriors" will go on to represent the 9th MSC at the Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition held at Fort McCoy, Wis. this summer.

While only two Soldiers will go on to represent the command, Wacker said he is proud of every Soldier.

"Each and every Soldier who has earned the opportunity to take part in the competition deserves recognition. They truly are the best of the best," said Wacker.