Sgt. Tyler Holloway and Spc. Zachary Pinc fought their way to the top to win the 2022 Wyoming Army National Guard State Best Warrior competition. Nine other competitors from across the state came together to compete in the grueling competition from March 31 to April 3 at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center. Each Soldier took part in various rigorous events testing their mental and physical soldiering capabilities. Each event tested the competitor’s combat effectiveness based on foundational warrior tasks and drills. In the end, only one Soldier and one non-commissioned officer come out on top.
“It makes us more combat effective when we know those skills. The dissemination of information reduces the workload on everyone and makes us a better force as a whole,” says Holloway, a fires non-commissioned officer with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade in Cheyenne. Holloway competed in the State Best Warrior last year, but came up just short of the win, placing second.
The first day of the competition kicked off with a formal inspection and board interview. Each competitor had to report in their service dress uniform, ensuring all parts were strictly in place. Following the inspection, they were to report to a panel of senior non-commissioned officers to answer various questions about soldier tasks, warrior ethos, and leadership.
The following two days began the rigorous physical tests. They headed to the training area in the northern part of Camp Guernsey. They conducted events that tested each Soldier’s ability to assess and treat combat injuries, move tactically under live ammunition fire, and fully disassemble and reassemble several different weapons systems. The competitors took part in 17 various events. The day culminated in a 12-mile ruck march with 45 pounds worth of gear on their backs.
The final day of the competition started before the sun rose at 4 a.m. with land navigation. Given a series of grid coordinates, a compass, and a map, Soldiers must find all the grid coordinates within the time allotted. Soldiers were tested on their accuracy in plotting the points and navigation through the terrain between the varying landscape, often out of sight grid coordinate markers, and lack of sunlight. Some of the grid coordinates were as far as half a mile from each other, leaving very little room for error.
The three-day event culminated with long hours spent on the firing range, where competitors shot a variety of weapon systems and were judged based on their accuracy in hitting different targets, having to walk between each range for the events, which spanned around half a mile.
On the last day, Brig. Gen. Steve Alkire, commander of the Wyoming Army Guard, was present to help announce the winners and commend all competitors’ dedication and willingness to participate.
“Trained, engaged, empowered soldiers ready to respond. They didn’t have to do this. They didn’t have to drive up here and compete, but they did,” Alkire says. “The fact that they did says a lot about who they are. To them, I say thank you for making the Wyoming Guard better by participating in this event.”
Sgt. Holloway and Spc. Pinc, of 133rd Engineering Co. in Laramie, will continue to the Region Six Best Warrior Competition. They will compete against guardsmen from the states of Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The two will have home-field advantage as the Wyoming Army National Guard hosts the regional competition, holding all events at the Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center from May 16 through 20.