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    Soldiers compete in Cavalry Squadron Best Warrior Competition with sights set on representing New York

    Soldiers compete in Cavalry Squadron Best Warrior Competition with sights set on representing New York

    Photo By Capt. Avery Schneider | New York Army National Guard Spc. Austin Manville and Sgt. Zachary Marafioti, assigned...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Avery Schneider 

    New York National Guard

    NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Army National Guard Spc. Austin Manville and Sgt. Zachary Marafioti earned the coveted Best Warrior title during the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment’s competition held May 21 to 22 at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
    Manville, age 21, is a Rochester resident and infantryman assigned to the Squadron’s Charlie Troop. He took first place in the Soldier category.
    Marafioti, age 25, is a Greece resident and cavalry scout assigned to the squadron’s Alpha Troop. He took first place in the noncommissioned officer category. Both serve as full time members of the New York National Guard Honor Guard.
    Squadron Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Roeser said he’s hoping Marafioti and Manville will go on to place first the New York Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition. He’s never seen a Soldier from the squadron win.
    “In the last few years, it’s been the infantry battalions [in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team] that have been leading it,” Roeser explained. “I’m looking to try to get back into that first place role and show that our [cavalry scouts] and [infantrymen] in this squadron are just as good, if not better, than the rest of the brigade and the state.”
    Soldiers who achieve the title of best warrior for New York go on to compete at the northeast regional level, with a chance to advance to the national stage.
    “As these competition go on, they get longer and more strenuous,” Roeser said.
    That made it critical for the skills of his Soldiers to be well-challenged at the initial stage. And a challenging competition means lots of hard work and preparation.
    When Manville found out four months ago he’d been selected to compete, he started hitting the books and developing his training plan.
    “A lot of just buckling down and getting done what needs to get done,” he said. “A lot of studying when you don’t want to study. A lot of working out when you don’t want to work out. Just grind.”
    The ideal candidate is expected to be well-rounded and an expert at “warrior skills” considered critical to survival on the battlefield.
    “It’s somebody who’s extremely physically fit, and who’s mentally tough, who’s intelligent, [and] well-spoken,” Roeser said.
    A total of nine Soldiers competed from each of the squadron’s four troops.
    Day one of the competition began with a “modified Murph” workout of 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air squats, sandwiched between two one-mile runs. Competitors had up to one hour to complete as much of the workout as possible.
    Then they donned dress uniforms for a written exam, map reading test, and a formal board appearance and oral exam before the squadron’s senior NCOs.
    The exams covered Army regulations and administrative programs, leadership competencies, drill and ceremony, weapons and tactics, and current events with a military focus.
    “Our Soldiers should know what’s going on in the world. I think they should know who we’re training to fight and what that looks like,” Roeser said.
    Day two started with a grueling 12-mile ruck march on small-town streets, winding country roads, and steep rocky hills.
    It proved to be the most physically challenging part of the competition. But in less than three hours, both Manville and Marafioti crossed the finish line.
    “A 12-mile ruck march, uphill almost the entire way isn't fun,” Marafioti said. “I think you kind of have to want to do that to be here. Otherwise, it's just going to suck.”
    Round-robin tests of abilities to shoot, move and communicate, as well as render medical aid marked the final leg of the competition.
    Marksmanship was gauged with each competitor’s scores from previous weapons qualification. During the competition, they were graded on how effectively they could clear, disassemble, reassemble and perform functions checks on the M249, M240L, and M2 .50 Caliber machine guns.
    Movement was judged on a complex land navigation course filled with heavily wooded and rocky terrain.
    For communication, each competitor was tasked to assemble a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, use it to talk to a fellow Soldier, and give a “nine-line” report for requesting medical evacuation.
    In a medical care evaluation, competitors were sent along a wooded trail as though they were conducting a patrol. Along the way, simulated gunfire and explosions from enemy actors tested their ability to render aid to an injured Soldier under stressful conditions.
    Physical fitness, mental fortitude, intelligence, and bearing aren’t the only things it takes to get through challenges like these. It takes serious motivation. For each competitor, that motivation is different, but Manville and Marafioti’s both center on family and unit pride.
    Manville’s father is an Air Force Major and his uncle was enlisted in the Marine Corps.
    “I have to represent them well. I have to represent the unit well,” Manville said. “Always be the best I can be for the people that came before me. This uniform is more than me. It's a history, it's a lineage.”
    Marafioti thinks of his fiancé, his six month old son, his German Shepard, and his martial arts coach for motivation when he’s competing.
    “I just always want to make people that believe in me proud,” he said.
    Both Soldiers also know competitions like these can be a step in developing their military careers. And while Roeser’s immediate sights are set on getting them a shot at representing New York, he, too, sees the competition’s holistic effect.
    “It helps us identify our future junior leaders. And, also, it gives them a chance to display their prowess and their skills to the brigade-level NCOs and across the brigade, whether it's for potential [Active Guard Reserve] jobs, or school slots or future promotion possibilities,” he said.
    For the next five months, Manville and Marafioti will focus on preparing for the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Best Warrior Competition.
    “This is just the first level. I'm not done fighting,” Manville said.



    Date Taken: 05.22.2021
    Date Posted: 05.26.2021 17:38
    Story ID: 397468
    Location: NIAGARA FALLS, NY, US 
    Hometown: GREECE, NY, US
    Hometown: ROCHESTER, NY, US

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