JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – While Spring has begun for most soldiers in the lower 48 states, the Arctic paratroopers assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division are still training hard in the snow.<br /> <br /> The 4-25 ABCT hosted two days of “Best Junior Leader” and “Best Squad” competition on Joint Base Elmendorf all day Tuesday and Wednesday that began both days in the early hours.<br /> <br /> The competitions included a 15-mile foot march, an obstacle course, an M249 machine gun assembly challenge, a stress shoot event, a modified physical fitness test, a harness rigging, and challenge events for field radio communication and first aid.<br /> <br /> Out of approximately 60 junior leaders that competed individually April 2, 2013, Sgt. Justin Siegfried, assigned to Fox Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment won the Becker Non-Commissioned Officer Award.<br /> <br /> “It feels amazing,” Siegfried said. “I’m a little surprised and proud to represent 509th. I can’t wait for the next one!”<br /> <br /> First Lt. Thomas Mussmann, assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment won the Andrews Junior Officer Award. <br /> <br /> The competition was not without challenges. <br /> <br /> “I’d say the hardest part was just to ruck the whole way. Fifteen miles is pretty far away, especially when you are trying to keep your place and trying to beat everyone else.”<br /> <br /> Out of approximately 30 nine-member squads, the best Spartan Squad came from Comanche Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment.<br /> <br /> Staff Sgt. Christopher Norris, the squad leader said, “It feels good to represent our company and battalion.”<br /> <br /> The awards are named for Staff Sgt. Shane Becker, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 2nd Lt. Darryn D. Andrews, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment during Operation Enduring Freedom. <br /> <br /> The purpose of the competition was to reinforce esprit-de-corps through competition, and further develop the brigade’s arctic fighting skills, while honoring the sacrifices of our paratroopers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the nation in combat.<br /> <br /> This was the first brigade-level competition hosted by the 4-25th since redeploying from Afghanistan in October 2012.