Story by Lt. Col. Michele R. Sutak
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. – Spc. Miguel Larrea, a carpentry and masonry in the Army Reserve, won the 2012 Army Reserve Medical Command Best Warrior Competition. Larrea competed against other soldiers from around the country at Camp Blanding and Pinellas Park, Fla., March 26-30.
Larrea, a native of Slidell, La., and a member of the 7232nd Medical Support Unit from New Orleans, beat out three competitors to be named "Best Warrior" in the enlisted regional category. He will now go on to compete against soldiers from other U.S. Army Reserve Commands where he could earn the opportunity to compete at the Department of the Army level.
The grueling five-day competition taxed each soldier’s mental and physical mettle. One competing soldier said that you can really do more than you think you can. Another indicated that each soldier drives off one another, and creates a team.
“Competition drives excellence,” said Larrea, who works as a performance coach in Slidell. “This competition gives me a chance to demonstrate that I live by the Warrior Ethos.”
Over the length of the competition, each soldier had to complete numerous events that were scored based on time or accuracy.
These events included an obstacle course, rappelling towers, an Army physical fitness test, day and night urban orienteering courses, 10K-foot march, weapons qualification on rifles and pistols, hand-to-hand combative tournament, a written essay and a mystery event which turned out to require contestants to disassemble and reassemble four different weapons, an M4 rifle,9 MM Beretta, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and M240B machine gun. In all, soldiers marched approximately 20 miles in a two-day period with more than 50 pounds of cargo on their back, testing their strength and endurance.
“The ruck march was the hardest part,” stated Larrea. “It’s all about overcoming obstacles and being resilient.”
At the end of the five day event, Larrea’s scores and times were the best out of the group propelling him into the national, Army Reserve wide competition that will be held July 14-18 at Fort McCoy, Wis.
“My brother was with me the entire time,” said Larrea, who recently lost his brother. “Pushing me along the way.”
The Best Warrior Competition was developed by retired Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley in 2002 as a test of a soldier’s physical endurance, military knowledge, and mental perseverance.
“I knew I was in the top three,” said Larrea, 25, who has been in the Army for six years and is working as a combat medic. “But honestly the competition was close.”
Currently, Larrea resides in Slidell with his wife Amanda. He graduated from Northshore High School in 2005, and recently earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.
The 7232nd MSU, Southeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group is a part of the Army Reserve Medical Command near Tampa, Fla.