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    91st TD hosts Best Warrior Competition

    91st TD hosts Best Warrior Competiton

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Dayan Neely | Spc. Derek Cummings, a combat cameraman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company,...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Dayan Neely 

    91st Training Division (Operations)

    FORT HUNTER-LIGGETT, Calif. -- For the first time, the 91st Training Division, a subordinate of the 84th Training Command, hosted the Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year’s Best Warrior Competition, Feb. 23 - 28, 2015. Soldiers traveled from various states across the country to participate in the physically and mentally challenging competition.

    The competition is a compilation of events that test basic Soldier skills, endurance, and knowledge, and this week’s trials are a stepping stone for the candidates that will be moving to the next level in the BWC.

    After weighing in, and receiving pertinent equipment, weapons, and instruction, the competitors were committed to the next three days of events that would tax their bodies and minds.

    The first day began with an Army Physical Fitness Test, ensuring the Soldiers were capable and prepared to handle the adversity of basic field operations. From there, the competition moved to the steep hills in the backyard of Fort Hunter-Liggett to take on land navigation.

    I did really well with the day land navigation, said Spc. Derek Cummings, 91st Training Division Combat Cameraman. The night didn’t go so well.

    This was the case for most of the competitors, as the variations and vegetation in the terrain proved to be the true antagonist of the event.

    Between the day and night land navigation, the Soldiers were tested on their ability to lead a team into a hostile environment, recover a casualty, provide immediate first aid, and radio in a nine-line MEDEVAC. This is a status report to request medical evacuation for the casualty.

    “I had never done this before,” stated Sgt. First Class Conrad Meyers, an electrical guitarist for the 191st Army Band. “I’ve given the class before, but never performed it out in the field. So, that was a challenge.”

    Meyers was the NCO of the Year BWC winner for the 63rd Regional Support Command in this competition. He is also an Honor Guard member, voluntarily performing ceremonial burial duty for fallen heroes.

    The next day of the competition started with more terrain familiarization, consisting of HMMWV (Humvee) driving with map coordinates, a field-based confidence course, and short-distance hiking to the second event of the day.

    The “shoot house” was the, consensus agreed, most fun event. This was a test to work in two-man teams to clear a house of threats, while an opposing-force active shooter lurked in an undisclosed room. The shooter and candidates volleyed fire with simulated ammunition rounds, which rattle the nerves due to the potential sting the rounds impose.

    “That was a really fun event,” said a smiling Cummings. “You got to go through, shoot chalk rounds to hit targets, and work together as teams. All the training that we had done separately worked together.”

    Cummings was the Soldier of the Year BWC winner for the 91st Training Division, improving on his previous attempt a year ago.

    Following the shoot house, the Soldiers were again tested on the nine-line MEDEVAC. This time, with different team leaders and in a different location. All competitors performed fluidly and proficiently in this event, even though many hadn’t thoroughly trained in it.

    The night was given to the Soldiers, this time. However, it was only to prepare for, what all considered, the toughest test of the whole competition; the 12-mile road march with a 35 pound ruck pack. In that preparation came the unanticipated mental stress of what was to come.

    “The beforehand for me is the toughest part,” claimed Meyers. “You’re psyching yourself out. The biggest mental challenge for me is anticipating events.”

    The psyche-out was not unjustified. The road march proved to be the most difficult and draining event for each Soldier in the competition. If they had trained back home for the event, it was likely not on equal terrain that was offered in this event.

    “That was pretty rough,” uttered Sgt. Darren Demulling, 11th Battalion, 104th Observer Coach and Trainer Regiment in Lincoln, Nebraska. “I’ve never done a ruck where there’s been so many hills. It was pretty intimidating at times, but just put one foot in front of the other and push on.”

    “It was a lot steeper and more hills than what I had practiced on before,” added Sgt. Dee McMurdo, 11th Battalion, 104th Observer Coach and Trainer Regiment in Boise, Id.

    Familiarity didn’t seem to play a part either. Cummings, a San Luis Obispo native, met adversity with the course in equal fashion, as prior events took a toll.

    “I was pretty tired out of the shoot and my legs started hurting right away,” stated Cummings. “It was a pretty big mental challenge for me. Are you gonna just fold, or are you gonna keep going until you’re told to stop?”

    In this event, survival and preservation were a consideration, as there were still events to compete in throughout the day.

    After completing the road march, the competitors moved directly into rifle range events, including M-16A2 qualification, reflexive shooting, and squad-element weapons handling. They needed to put aside their aches and pains, and maintain fundamental shooting techniques all Soldiers are taught. The test came through their ability to do this effectively.

    An urban orienteering test was conducted before turning the night over to the competitors, who would now face another mental stressor in preparing for a Soldier and NCO of the Year Board, hosted by a panel of Sgts. Maj.

    In the last day of testing, and still recovering from the tribulations of the previous days, the competitors handled the board very well. Many questions were left unanswered, but confidence seemed to have persevered.

    “I feel I knew the NCO Creed well, but the questions kinda got me,” said Demulling.

    “I felt like I went through it very confidently,” claimed Cummings. “But there are nerves that go along with standing in front of a board of Sgts. Maj.”

    In the end of all the challenges, the Soldiers gave all they had. Sometimes they came up short, and other times they outperformed the pack. Some questions were not answered, but lots of answers were obtained. The answers to the questions of what it takes to compete at this level and what needs to be done in preparation for the next time were the most important ones the Soldiers walked away with.

    The turmoil of the past three days culminated with the board and subsided with a banquet, hosted by the board members and honoring the candidates. Awards were given along with congratulatory hand shakes, but immediate bonds through hardship were exchanged between all the competitors, knowing they will likely meet again under the same conditions.



    Date Taken: 02.27.2015
    Date Posted: 02.28.2015 02:05
    Story ID: 155625

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