News: Texas soldiers compete for 'best warrior'
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego
BASTROP, Texas — Soldiers and NCOs representing their brigades competed at the 2012 Texas Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition on Camp Swift outside of Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 3-5, 2012.
Rudyard Kipling first characterized the non-commissioned officer as the backbone of the Army in his 1896 poem, "The 'Eathen." Since then, this timeless corps of professionals have built and developed the ranks of Soldiers to be redoubtable fighting forces.
For the soldiers and NCOs representing their brigades at the 2012 Texas Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition, being the Army's backbone means more than training and doctrine, it's a way of life.
"It's a whole soldier concept," said Command Sgt. Major Richard Milford, sergeant major for the Texas Army National Guard. "They need to be able to shoot, move, and communicate, and we've got several events out there for them to be able to do that."
The competition, held Feb. 3-5, 2012 at Camp Swift, Texas, pushed competitors to their physical limits through a series of events including a six-mile ruck march, weapons qualification, land navigation, confidence course and performance board.
"These soldiers," said Command Sgt. Maj. Wilson Early, Sgt. Maj. for 36th Infantry Division, "are living the Army Values and doing what NCOs are supposed to be doing."
The three-day, state-level event featured 10 junior enlisted soldiers and 11 NCOs vying for top honors as the best warrior in their respective category. Competitors entered by first winning at their unit, battalion and brigade levels.
"It motivates my soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Carlton Jacobs, the NCO representative from the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade. "They look up to a lot of us senior NCOs. It lets them know that we set the example and that we lead the way as NCOs."
This year, Soldier of the Year went to Spc. Nicholas Burns of the 176th Engineer Brigade and NCO of the Year to Sgt. Christopher Gregory of the 71st Theater Information Operations Group.
"I feel like I gave it everything I had," said Gregory, "and left nothing on the table. "It's rewarding to be able to continue on and represent the state and make my unit proud."
From here, the two best warriors move on to the regional competition, held in Nebraska later this year.
"We're looking at the two winners and moving them to the regionals," said Milford. "Last year there was a National Guard soldier that took the best warrior competition with the Army, and we'd like to be able to do that with Texas."
For Gregory and Burns, the support and confidence of the Texas Army National Guard goes with them as they progress in this challenging series of contests.
"It's a great feeling," said Gregory, "I'm proud. I'm a Texan by birth and I love this state and it's just an honor."