Normally, there are around 25 participants, but his time around, only seven came to compete. The BWC is not for the faint of heart. It tests you physically and mentally. Participants are tested on their knowledge of warrior tasks and drills, everything from weapons and combatives, to land navigation. Competitors go non-stop with little sleep, moving from one event to the next with barely a break in between.
As soon as the brief for the competition ended, evaluations began. Three grueling days pushed the soldiers to their limits. The events are designed to test a soldier’s ability to perform in a combat-like environment. Early mornings to late nights left the competitors exhausted, like when you end a land navigation event around 1 a.m. and wake up again at 4 a.m. to get on a bus to start a six mile ruck march.
Besides starting some familiarization training a few months prior to the competition, most of the competitors only have a basic knowledge of these events. Some haven’t had to do any since basic combat training. The weapon systems especially. A good portion of guard soldiers only qualify on the rifle once a year, and that’s it. Another goal of this competition is for the soldiers to use the knowledge they’ve gained in all of these events and take it back to their units.
“Coming here and having the sergeants major and the non-commissioned officers teach us hands-on warrior tasks, then letting us execute is helpful. Their critiques allows us to refine our skills,” said Sgt. Tyler Holloway, a fire support specialist with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade. “It’s great baseline training that I want to take back to my unit.”
There were a couple of injuries along the way, but all seven competitors made it through to the end. All in all, every competitor said that it was a challenging and fun experience. Even though they were competing against each other, they also supported each other through every event.
“Yeah, we’re trying to beat each other, but at the end of the day you don’t want to have that butting of heads, or that cutthroat mentality against your brothers,” said Spc. Tyler Long, a satellite communication systems operator-maintainer with the 148th Signal Company. “Camaraderie is key in this competition.”
They were all very close at the end of the competition in terms of points. Staff Sgt. Josh Barry of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Regiment and Spc. Aiden Carroll of 133rd Engineer Company came out on top. They were named NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year respectively. Barry and Carroll will head to Oregon in May to compete in the regional Best Warrior Competition.
Staff Sgt. Josh Barry of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Regiment
Sgt. Tyler Holloway of 115th Field Artillery Brigade
Sgt. Joseph Ogirima of 133rd Engineer Company
Sgt. Jerry Selby of 960th Brigade Support Battalion
Sgt. Wayde Phelps of 960th Brigade Support Battalion
Spc. Aiden Carroll of 133rd Engineer Company
Spc. Tyler Long of 148th Signal Company