FORT DEVENS, Mass. - Competitors from across the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command were met by the brims of the infamous campaign hats of drill sergeants during the division-level Best Warrior and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year competition at Fort Devens, Mass., March 23-30 2013.
The eight soldiers who won the Best Warrior competitions at battalion-level, represent the best of the best among the four brigades of Army Reserve soldiers in the 316th ESC.
The soldiers competed in either the junior enlisted or noncommissioned officer category leaving only two winning spots to advance to the next level.
These top soldiers faced 21 individual task events in order to advance to the next level of competition. Among the events were: a 10-mile road march while with a 35-pound rucksack, a Modern Army Combatives tournament, a challenging obstacle course, various basic warrior tasks and drills, and four mystery events that were a complete surprise to the contenders.
The gravity of the competition led the event coordinator this year to enlist the assistance of Army Reserve drill sergeants to judge the challenges.
“Every year the division selects a different brigade command sergeant major to host the Best Warrior Competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Lopes, acting 655th Regional Support Command Sergeant Major, “This year I was selected … I wanted the competition to be fair and with no question about whom the winner would be, so I chose the drill sergeants, an unbiased group of Soldiers, to assess the competitors and keep them safe,” he said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Johnnie McPeek, the acting division command sergeant major for the 316th ESC has particular attributes he wants to see in competitors.
“I look at the discipline of the soldier because that tells me a lot about the command,” said McPeek. “I want to see if they come with a good attitude; that says they are willing to do whatever it takes to win the competition.”
The soldiers could receive up to 50 points for each of the events, earning max points by completing each task perfectly. At the conclusion of the events, the points are tallied and the non-commissioned officer and junior enlisted Best Warrior of 2013 are named.
With an overall score of 780 out of a possible 1050 points, Sgt. Tyler Ferguson from the 167th Combat Support Battalion, in Londonderry, N.H., claimed the spot as the 2013 Non-Commissioned Officer Best Warrior for the 316th ESC.
“I am glad I was able to represent my unit,” Ferguson said, I was surprised to win, since I felt I started off badly … throughout the competition I was never told how I scored, so I did my best.”
“The most challenging day in the competition for me was running through a foot of snow during an obstacle course after I had already gone through a land navigation course in the same snow covered woods,” explained Ferguson.
While he was able to take home a title in his category, Ferguson was outdone by the champion of the junior-enlisted division.
With an overall score of 790, Spc. Derek Plum from the 475th Quartermaster Group out of Fort Devens, Mass., brought home the title of the 2013 junior-enlisted Best Warrior for the 316th ESC.
“I am excited to have won, but I know I am going to have to really prepare more by studying for the next level because it is going to be harder,” said Plum.
“I really enjoyed the training and having the drill sergeants evaluating helped me to keep motivated throughout the competition,” said Plum.
Ferguson and Plum will move forward to 377th Theater Sustainment Command level at Camp Shelby, Miss., April 20.
The winners of that competition will go on to compete for the title of the 2013 U.S. Army Reserve Command Best Warrior and then possibly on to the Department of the Army competition later this year.
These soldiers have demonstrated that they have the drive to go far and are eager to represent their units and the 316th ESC. They have their eyes set on the ultimate title of the Department of the Army Best Warrior, they just need to push it to the next level.