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ANCHORAGE, Ala. – U.S. Army Spc. Luke Harrison, a dedicated field artillery radar operator serving in the Wyoming Army National Guard and representing Region VI, has been bestowed with the honorable title of the Army National Guard’s Soldier of the Year. He has earned this esteemed distinction through his remarkable achievements in the 2023 All-Guard Best Warrior Competition, held from July 8 to 13 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bailey Ruff, a skilled horizontal construction engineer serving in the South Dakota Army National Guard and representing Region VI, has been named the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year in the competition. This recognition comes from his exceptional performance, unparalleled expertise, and unwavering dedication throughout the competition.
Fourteen competitors, filled with anticipation, gathered at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage to discover the outcome of the rigorous six-day competition. The events thoroughly tested the adaptiveness and lethality of these Soldiers, pushing them to their limits. The competition featured a series of challenging trials, including the Army Combat Fitness Test, land navigation exercises, shooting matches, and an arduous obstacle course. It culminated with a grueling 14-mile ruck march. Each participant showcased their resilience, skill, and determination in their pursuit of victory.
Harrison embarked on his journey to the national competition by willingly participating in additional training for the Wyoming Guard Best Warrior State Competition. Initially, his motivation for signing up was solely to gain further familiarity with various weapons systems and to test his physical fitness limits.
“I never planned to compete at the state level, but now, here I am,” expressed Harrison. “I approached this competition as a training exercise, giving my best effort. Winning the title has made me realize the amount of effort and passion I invested in it. I am incredibly grateful for this victory.”
In pursuit of triumph, 14 exceptional individuals from Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming converged in Alaska for the arduous competition. These esteemed participants, composed of seven Non-Commissioned Officers and seven enlisted Soldiers, emerged victorious in smaller contests at state and regional levels, signifying their status as the nation’s elite within the Army National Guard. Representing their respective regions, each NCO and enlisted Soldier embodied the epitome of excellence in their field.
“Spc. Luke Harrison demonstrated outstanding dedication, commitment, and attention to detail in mastering and performing more than 40 graded tasks and events, leading to him winning the National Guard Best Warrior of the Year in the Soldier category,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Lindsey Schmidt. “He is an example for all our junior leaders who prove effective training, being a good follower, and doing more than the minimum lead to individual success representing all of the Wyoming National Guard. Please wish him well as he advances to the U.S. Army Best Squad Competition.”
As champions of the Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition, Spc. Harrison and Sgt. Ruff, along with Staff Sgt. Leo Kerfeld, Minnesota National Guard, Region IV, Spc. Bret Williams, West Virginia National Guard, Region II, Spc. Hunter Gammon, Missouri National Guard, Region V, will advance to compete against teams from the Regular Army and Army Reserves in the upcoming fall in a conquest for the Best Squad Competition. This next stage of the competition will bring together the best warriors from various branches of the Army to vie for the ultimate honor and recognition. With their exceptional skills and unwavering dedication, Spc. Harrison, Bailey Ruff, and their squad members will represent the Army National Guard with pride and determination in their quest for victory.
Harrison’s exceptional skills, unwavering commitment, and outstanding performance have propelled him to the pinnacle of recognition within the Army National Guard.