JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The journey toward being the best at what you do is one that many people begin in earnest, but few finish despite their best intentions.
For Cpl. Francis Kvarta, his journey is one step closer to being complete.
Kvarta won the Best Warrior Competition held here April 17-19 by the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command and Military Intelligence Readiness Command. He now moves on to compete at the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s Best Warrior Competition scheduled June 23-28 at Fort McCoy, Wis.
“I’m excited to move on to the USARC level and experience a much bigger competition,” said Kvarta, who serves as acting supply sergeant for the 99th RSC. “It’s going to be a lot more intense.”
The Best Warrior Competition tests the mental and physical resiliency of its participants, putting their training and experience to the test. The competition also helps build personal confidence and team esprit de corps.
“Best Warrior is truly a competition of the ‘best of the best,’” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Castelveter, 99th RSC command sergeant major. “These soldiers are raising their hands to say, ‘I want to challenge myself, I want to challenge by abilities emotionally, mentally and physically.'”
“It was a good opportunity for a lot of soldiers to allow themselves to be competitive,” said Staff Sgt. David Ozoria, who also serves with the 99th RSC and competed alongside Kvarta. “It allowed soldiers to shine”
During the competition, soldiers competed in various events such as land navigation, road march, the Army Physical Fitness Test, combatives, evaluating a casualty, performing first aid, selecting and constructing fighting positions, moving under direct fire and planning convoy operations.
“It’s a little bit of both, mental and physical,” said Kvarta of the Best Warrior Competition. “To get prepared, I did a lot of running. Lifting helped with the support of the ruck sack on my back.”
“Seven miles is far with a 35-pound ruck sack,” he added.
While the Best Warrior Competition tests individual soldiers’ skills, there is also an element of team-building and camaraderie that builds among competitors.
“It’s about leadership, and it’s about teamwork,” said Castelveter. “You’ll see Warriors who are competing against other Warriors, supporting and helping each other. These are the soldiers who are going to be the leaders, who are going to raise their hands and take the hard challenge, and go back to their units and mentor their solders and teach them the value of being the best that you can be.”
“If you’re around soldiers who are out in front, always pushing and being the best, it rubs off in your units,” he added.
As Kvarta prepares to take the next step in his journey, he is not taking the competition he will face at USARC lightly.
“I’ll probably run a lot more, and not worry about speed as much as endurance - plus a lot more lifting,” Kvarta explained. “I am going to start doing more ruck marches, trying to get my time down.”
Regardless of the outcome at the USARC Best Warrior Competition, Kvarta’s journey has already brought him to new levels in his personal and professional development.
“Everything from PT to land nav, combatives, movement under fire – it’s literally everything it takes to be a well-rounded solder,” Kvarta said. “When you look at a role model solder under the word ‘Army,’ that’s what you would see – someone who can do all those things.”
“It takes a lot, and I just like the type of person you have to be to do that,” he added.
“It’s not a competition that anyone could do,” Castelveter said. “It’s not an easy task, and they chose to be out there pushing themselves farther, harder.”
“Everyone raising their hand is a winner just for being out here,” he added.