PINEVILLE, LA, UNITED STATES
PINEVILLE, La. - Soldiers from seven states gathered at Camp Cook in Ball, La., for the Region Five Best Warrior Competition, June 22 - 25, to determine which state’s top Soldier of the Year and top Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year will move on to the national Best Warrior Competition.
Competitors from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana challenged each other in the Army Physical Fitness Test, a 12-mile road march, land navigation, combat water survival training, combatives and weapons qualification with both the M-4 rifle and the M-9 pistol.
"These events are designed to test both the physical and mental limits of the Soldiers," said Master Sgt. Daniel J. Rachel, 1st Battalion branch chief for the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at Camp Ball, La. "The Soldiers trained and were well prepared for everything thrown at them."
Sgt. Larry Isbell of Oklahoma City, Okla., won the top Region Five Soldier of the Year award, and Louisiana National Guardsmen Sgt. Jordan Jones of Monroe, La., with Detachment 1, Alpha Company, Recruiting Sustainment Program, won the top Region Five NCO of the Year award.
Jones could not hide his disbelief at winning. Throughout the four-day competition, he was in either second or third place, but moved into first after the last event.
“When they called second place and it was the Soldier that had been in the lead, I thought I had dropped to third,” Jones, father to 13-month old son Luke and married to wife, Paula recalled. “I was in disbelief. I just looked at my wife and Sgt. Powell – they were shocked too. Everybody that participated was the best from their state.”
Each competitor had a sponsor that helped prepare them for the grueling competition. Jones humbly attributed his win to his sponsor and training partner, Sgt. Christopher Power, also from Monroe. He said Powell pushed him during work-outs that consisted of running and intense weight training, 1,000 meter swims followed by 10 solid minutes of treading water and six-mile road marches.
“Sgt. Powell is a really good friend and the only person I wanted beside me. I couldn’t have done it without him,” Jones said. “He is the definition of selfless service.”
Jones explained that Powell carried food and water for Jones so he would not have to carry the extra weight during the nearly three-hour road march.
“If I needed water or food or needed my clothes washed, he did it for me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have starved [on the road march] or passed out in a ditch somewhere,” he continued.
Jones’ road to the national competition started nearly a year ago while serving in Iraq. It was there that he won the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 225th Engineer Brigade NCO competition. Next he competed for the 225th Eng. Bde., then NCO of the deployment. Once he returned home he competed in the Louisiana National Guard state competition, before moving on to region five, and now nationals.
He said the experience he has gained has been useful. Many Soldiers suffered through painful blisters on the 12-mile road march, but Jones’ learned how to combat the excruciating wounds that left many Soldiers with blood-stained socks.
“I wore better socks and duct taped the balls of my feet, and that kept me from getting blisters!” Jones laughed.
Winners of the seven regions will compete later this summer to be named Soldier and NCO of the National Guard at Fort Benning, Ga. The winners will move on to the final competition to be named the Army Soldier and NCO of the Year.
"We congratulate these two winners as well as the others who fought hard and competed in this competition," said Command Sgt. Major John D. Kling, 199th Leadership Regiment Commandant. "These two Soldiers will represent our region very well, and I am confident they will be ready to compete and do well at the national competition."
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This work, Region Five Best Warrior Competition showcases top enlisted Soldiers, by SSG Scott Longstreet, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.