BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - The quest to find the Army’s best warrior this year centered around the Motown Showdown for the Soldiers of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command and the 2nd Psychological Operations Group at the Fort Custer Training Center in Battle Creek, Mich. The Motown Showdown, a brutal 72-hour event filled with fatigue, snow and tough competition, challenged Soldiers through physical and mental tests.
Soldiers from around the country braved frigid temperatures and long hours to earn the title of Best Warrior. Noncommissioned officers coordinated the Best Warrior Competition to build leadership and groom younger Soldiers. Events included a road march, combatives, land navigation, weapons marksmanship and Soldier readiness courses.
Once all the scores were tallied, Staff Sgt. Matthew Yelverton and Spc. Evan Robilliard were named the Best Warriors for the 352nd CACOM, and now prepare for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) Best Warrior Competition in April. Sgt. Alexander Sinninger and Spc. Michael Bollis, both with the 312th Psychological Operations Company, were named the Best Warriors for the 2nd POG.
“It’s going on 36 straight hours with naps here or there,” said Spc. Justin Greenhill, a Soldier with the 310th Psychological Operations Company.
Greenhill said it’s been tough, but he would definitely do it again.
“I think the competition was good,” said Sinninger. Overall elements including the fatigue and cold made this a challenging event. The tough as steel idea was present here, he said, referring to the title of this year’s BWC.
The training, intense weather and grueling hours took all the best the warriors could give. As the longer hours of the BWC were reached, the fatigue was apparent.
We all came here willing to give 100 percent, said Pfc. Robert Gardner, of the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion and a student at the University of Tennessee.
This year, a sexual harassment assault response and prevention scenario and vehicle maintenance were added to the events cycle to take Soldiers beyond the physical challenge. Participants learned to be leaders, planned for contingencies, taught the understanding of taking care of Soldiers and maintained their equipment.
“This competition has been really challenging and made me push harder,” said Yelverton, a Maryland resident with the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. Competitors brought a lot to the table, he said.
It’s great training and there are a lot of good NCOs out here, he said. The ice and snow made the events more intense, he added.
During the night medical mission scenario, competitors worked in 20-degree temperatures to save an injured Soldier. The weather broke the following morning bringing sunshine and warmer temperatures for the obstacle course and combatives matches.
There were a lot of really strong competitors, said Robilliard, a Michigan native and employee for an auto parts company assigned to the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion. He trained for several months in preparation for the Best Warrior Competition. The harsh weather this winter did make it difficult to train, he said.
No event is complete without acknowledging the NCO-organizers who worked diligently planning every detail, including logistics, safety, and funding, said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rocca, command sergeant major for the CACOM. He specifically mentioned special thanks to the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion for their support in organizing the competition.
Looking at the surface with the number of competitors and cost, it could seem too expensive. The level of training, learning and Soldiers participating are key items that come from this type of event, Rocca said.
We have a good program in place, said Rocca. The goal was to make the competition personal for each participant, and to ensure that Soldiers were proud of their accomplishments and inspired to continue training at exceptional levels.
The BWC challenges each Soldier to be the very best: the best competitor, Soldier and leader.
As the Warrior competitors return home, their experiences impact how they work, train and mentor their fellow Soldiers and next year’s Best Warriors. Soldiers take time out of work, education and community to compete in this leadership driven event.
More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/352cacom