News: NC Air Guardsmen first to compete in NCNG Best Warrior
BUTNER, N.C. – The Best Warrior Competition is an annual, Army-wide event designed to test the mental and physical strength of its competitors and name one soldier and one non-commissioned officer the Best Warrior for that year.
That is why many soldiers in North Carolina were surprised to learn that there would also be two airmen competing alongside them at this year’s state level of the competition.
Tech. Sgt. Richard Player, competing in the NCO category and Sr. Airman Joshua Garrison, competing in the enlisted category, are both with the North Carolina National Guard’s 145th Air Wing. They are also the first Air Guardsmen to compete in the Best Warrior Competition in North Carolina.
Sgt. Thiahy Hong said it’s only natural that the Air Guard participates in the competition.
“I think it’s great that they are competing with us,” said Hong, who is presenting the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in the NCO category. “We are always going to be working together. The Air Force used to be part of the Army and we’re always going to need their support. I would like to see them be able to go higher in the competition than just the state level.”
The airmen will not be able to continue past the state level because it is an Army Competition. If one of the airmen wins, the runner up will represent North Carolina at the Regional Best Warrior Competition in April.
Command Sgt. Maj. John Swart, the senior enlisted leader for the North Carolina National Guard offered to let the 145th Air Wing compete this year and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, the 145th Air Wing Command Chief, accepted.
“I was willing to accept their invitation and get two airmen into the competition to build some camaraderie,” Williams said. “It will get them experience and exposure to the way [the Army Guard] does things and help build cohesion between the branches.”
Both the airmen and soldiers in the competition will complete the same events and stay in the same barracks, giving the service members time to get to know each other. Hong said competing with the airmen is a great opportunity to build camaraderie.
“It gives us a chance to learn from them,” Hong said. “They use different weapons systems than us and we train differently than them and the competition helps us build camaraderie. It makes us a better team.”