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    79th SSC Soldiers earn “Best Warrior” title, move on to USARC competition

    79th SSC Soldiers earn “Best Warrior” title, move on to USARC competition

    Photo By Sgt. Maj. Tyrone Walker | Five Soldiers and four noncommissioned officers take a break after completing the...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Alexandra Hays  

    79th Theater Sustainment Command

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.— Five Soldiers and four noncommissioned officers competed for a chance to be called “Best Warrior” May 3-6 at the 79th Sustainment Command (Support)’s Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Pendleton, California.

    Competitors were tested on challenges such as the traditional Army Physical Fitness Test, a 10-kilometer ruck march, an appearance before a board, land navigation, and medical tasks.

    At the culmination of the grueling three-day competition, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Chefan, a transportation management coordinator with the 535th Movement Control Team out of Manhattan, Kansas, earned the title of best noncommissioned officer, and Spc. Kenny Ochoa, a watercraft operator with the 481st Transportation Company out of Port Hueneme, California, earned the title of best Soldier.

    “It doesn’t seem real,” Chefan said of winning the 79th SSC noncommissioned officer title. “I just love doing Army stuff.”

    Chefan, who is an Active Guard Reserve Soldier originally from Farmington, Michigan, explained he decided to compete in his unit-level best warrior competition because one of his Soldiers was participating. He said he wouldn’t ask his Soldiers to do anything he isn’t willing to do himself— and to his surprise, he won.

    As the only full-timer at his unit, and with four kids at home, Chefan said finding time to train for the competition was challenging. Chefan explained he would train and study on his lunch breaks and after work. “I had to prepare for this without letting my Soldiers down,” he said.

    He will bring that dedication to training to the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Best Warrior Competition next month.

    “I’m excited,” Chefan, who’s been in the Army for 12 years, said. “It’s an adventure.”

    Spc. Kenny Ochoa, who won the 79th SSC Soldier title, said he knows the competition at USARC will be intense.

    “It’s going to be a lot tougher,” Ochoa explained. “I know what it takes and I know how many more competitors there are.”

    Ochoa is a veteran to best warrior competitions—he competed at the 79th SSC’s competition in 2016, and earned the runner-up spot for Soldiers.
    “Sometimes you get knocked down, but you’ve got to get up,” he said of coming back this year and winning the title. “I gave it all and put it all on the table. Whether I knew the tasks well or not, I just tried my best.”

    When asked what drives him to participate in competitions like these, he said that while taxing and demanding, they are also very rewarding.

    “However great the pain is during the competition, there’s always enjoyment after … you know it’s going to be worth it,” Ochoa said.

    “This is all about Soldiers and training,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ted L. Copeland, Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve, who visited the competition. “We call it ‘Best Warrior’ … but it’s really about Soldiers doing our core Army, down-and-dirty training.”

    Copeland, who was the 79th SSC Command Sergeant Major before taking his position at USARC, said he was impressed with the competition, and said competitions like this highlight getting back to the basics of Soldier and unit training.

    “Soldiers doing hands-on training provides realism, provides challenges, and Soldiers love that,” Copeland said, noting that he was glad to see some of the Soldiers who competed last year back at it again.

    Copeland said his message to the competitors was the same that he gives Soldiers everywhere: “Never give up. Don’t quit. We look for Soldiers who won’t quit—in events like this or in a combat zone. It's that attitude of whatever it takes, continue on, keep fighting."



    Date Taken: 05.06.2017
    Date Posted: 05.12.2017 17:03
    Story ID: 233732
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 
    Hometown: CHATSWORTH, CA, US
    Hometown: FARMINGTON, MI, US

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