CAMP BLANDING JOINT TRAINING CENTER, STARKE, Fla. – Army National Guardsmen from the southeastern United States converged on Camp Blanding for the 2014 Army National Guard Best Warrior Southeast Regional Competition. Tucker, Ga. native, Staff Sgt. Eric N. Hunt, an infantryman with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Alpharetta, Ga. native, Pfc. Andrew Zipp, an infantryman with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th IBCT represented Georgia in the competition.
“Throughout this competition, I did not let my emotions get the best of me,” said Zipp. “I stayed focused and tried to remain calm, because staying calm is very important.”
The purpose of this competition is to select the best non-commissioned officer and Soldier to represent the southeast region at the national Best Warrior Competition.
The BWSRC consists of multiple events including the army physical fitness test, urban operations, call-for-indirect-fire, rules of engagement, a written essay, obstacle course, six-mile road march, weapon qualifications and stress-shoot, land navigation, and the non-commissioned officer and Soldiers board.
“Hunt and Zipp have done an awesome job representing the state and the 48th IBCT very well,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Logan of the 48th IBCT. “Both Soldiers have gained hands-on experience in warrior task to take home, and hopefully, this will open up other Soldier’s eyes to do the same next year.”
“What impressed me most in this competition was seeing all the Soldiers here trying and giving their best,” said Hunt. “I’ve learned, no matter your performance, be proud of yourself for making it this far, and never quit,” said Hunt.
Soldiers were pushed passed their limits while being challenged to complete each task.
“We’ve chosen challenging events to challenge them mentally and physically to identify the cream-of-the-crop,” said Sgt. Maj. Thomas Dulino, joint operations coordinator of Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. “We want the well-rounded Soldier who can shoot, move and communicate, but who can also do the essay writing and (NCO and Soldier board appearance) giving the total soldier concept.”
The winners of the regional Best Warrior Competition were Mississippi guardsmen Staff Sgt. Cody W. Espinoza with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion 204th Air Defense Artillery, and Hattiesburg, Miss. native, William Landrum of 1st Battalion 155th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Both Soldiers will advance to compete in the national Best Warrior Competition.
“It was a great honor to be here competing with these guys and seeing everyone push each other,” said Espinoza. “I plan on going back to my unit to encourage younger Soldiers to push pass what they think their limits really are,” said Espinoza.