FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- The U.S. Army Reserve Command announced the winners of the 2011 Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition today at the American Legion Post in Sparta, Wis.The 2011 Army Reserve Best Warrior (Non-Commissioned Officer category) is Sgt. Christopher R. Couchot, a senior transmission systems operator-maintainer whose hometown is Sidney, Ohio. Couchot represented the 335th Signal Command in the competition.The 2011 Army Reserve Best Warrior (Soldier category) is Spc. Ryan J. Barger, a military policeman whose hometown is Orleans, Mich. Barger, who resides in Allendale, Mich., represented the 200th Military Police Command in the competition.“I feel absolutely honored to be able to come out here and compete with all the competitors,” said Barger. “It's truly the best of the best in the Army Reserve. Honestly this is the best of the best. Anyone could have taken it. I was fortunate to be the one.”
Couchot and Barger will go on to represent the Army Reserve in the Department of the Army (DA) Best Warrior Competition in October at Fort Lee, Va.“We're gonna take it to the DA and I promise I will represent you well,” Couchot said. “It will be interesting to see what the competition will be like at DA, because I thought it was stiff"the competition out here, and it will be interesting to see what the active duty side has to offer.”Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Chief of the Army Reserve, who was at the awards banquet, offered his words of congratulations to the competitors, and he said that their accomplishments get people’s attention.“When I get out and talk about Soldiers that I've been out and visited and saw what they've done and how they performed, people in Congress, people in the American public start to listen,” Stultz said.Other honors at the awards banquet were as follows:Best Warrior runner-up (Non-Commissioned Officer category): Staff Sgt. Conrad H. Nazar Jr., 88th Regional Support Command. Hometown: Lorain, Ohio; currently resides in Tomah, Wis.Best Warrior runner-up (Soldier category): Spc. Wade J. Saunders, 335th Signal Command. Hometown: Pickens, S.C.Highest Army Physical Fitness Score: Spec. Wade J. Saunders, 335th Signal Command. Hometown: Pickens, S.C.Highest Weapons Qualification: Staff Sgt. Janine M. Smeltz, 377th Theater Sustainment Command. Hometown: Herndon, Pa., currently resides in Lykens, Pa.Heavyweight Combatives: Spc. Aurelio O. Hernandez, 412th Theater Engineer Command. Hometown: Hollister, Calif.Lightweight Combatives: Sgt. Gustavo Negrete, Jr., 79th Sustainment Support Command. Hometown: La Puente, Calif., currently resides in Los Alamitos, Calif.The 43 Soldiers competing in this week’s Best Warrior Competition represented 205,000 Soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserve.The competitors spent the week on a variety of Army challenges that tried their mettle in tests of skill such as weapons qualification, a ruck march, land navigation, Army combatives, first aid, and weapons assembly.Their military backgrounds and experience represent the entire spectrum of the Army Reserve. Many have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Their career fields include military police, healthcare, mechanics, human resources, intelligence, chaplain assistant and engineering. They represent a wide cross-section of America, hailing from various states across the United States.