Competing soldiers face grueling mental and physical challenges

Competing soldiers face grueling mental and physical challenges

Wednesday, January 1, 2014



Twenty-four elite warriors converged on Fort Lee, Va., for the Best Warrior Competition in which tough challenges, both day and night, pushed their limits physically and mentally as they vied to be the best of the best.

The soldiers were at Fort Lee, Nov. 19-22, for the competition.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III oversaw the competition.

The challenges included Army aptitude tests, conquering urban warfare simulations, land navigation, marksmanship, board interviews, physical challenges, written exams, and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.

The physical fitness challenge included two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a two-mile run.

Soldiers also competed in a mystery event.

The warriors mastered a series of benchmarks and subordinate command competitions throughout the year to qualify. The competition was open to all active-duty, Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers.

"I chose to compete in the Best Warrior Competition because I wanted to push myself to the next level, and to see my true potential," said Sgt. Jacob Refugio Valderrama, 555th Engineer Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The competition put the "best of the best" against each other, said Staff Sgt. Cory Schmidt, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

"I believe this competition will be extremely challenging because of the high level of skill and professionalism among the competitors," Schmidt said, prior to the competition.

Adding, "Every event will be a very close battle for the title of Best Warrior."

The soldiers represented 12 commands from across the Army. While women have competed previously in the Best Warrior Competition, only males made it to the finals this year.

Spc. Jesse Kane, U.S. Army Garrison Military Police Company, West Point, N.Y., enjoyed the board interview portion of the competition to demonstrate his knowledge of the Army.

The board, chaired by Chandler, consisted of six senior sergeants major from across the Army.

"Getting direct feedback from the sergeant major of the Army is something that most soldiers will never get," said Kane.

With the rigors of training, being disciplined, and advancing this far, competitors said family was a source of inspiration.

"They are the ones who keep me going when I am running low on fuel," said Spc. Erik Eaton, Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

"Without their support and mentorship, I wouldn’t be here today," he said.

The Best Warrior Competition had been scheduled for October, but the partial government shutdown and federal budget crisis forced it to be postponed.

The warriors represented in the competition competed on behalf of these commands: U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, U.S. Army National Guard, and the National Capitol Region.