Best Warriors battle it out at Camp Ripley

April 6, 2016 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota) — Selected Soldiers and Non-commissioned Officers of the Minnesota National Guard took part in the state-level Best Warrior Competition, Apr. 1-3, 2016, on Camp Ripley.

The participants, selected by members of their units, were chosen to represent the Minnesota National Guard based on their tactical and technical abilities to include professionalism, physical and mental endurance, resiliency and leadership.

“The competition demands the most of these Soldiers and requires them to follow the seven Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Erickson, event organizer

The three-day event opened with a welcome brief from Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, the state senior enlisted advisor, followed by in-processing and the plan of action for the next two days. The next phase began with drill and ceremony and an impromptu essay challenging the intellectual abilities of each candidate.

Day two began before sunrise Apr. 2 with an Army Physical Fitness Test evaluating the strength and physical endurance in accordance with Army regulations. Despite the challenging weather conditions with a temperature of just 24 degrees and 30 mph winds, the top two-mile run time was 13:01.

“This is an individual event, but you are also there to motivate your fellow Soldiers along the way the entire time,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham. “We are looking for a healthy competition which includes helping each other and motivating each other, that’s what we do as teammates and battle buddies,” he added.

Following a written test each competitor and their sponsor presented themselves before an appearance board, answering questions on current events, military programs and leadership. The final event before day and night land navigation, included Army Warrior Tasks, demonstrating tactical understanding and technical aptitude. Each task tests the Soldiers independently, but their success on the battlefield will come from their ability to draw motivation from each other.

The final day for the competitors began with battling exhaustion and sore muscles before rucking-up and moving out for the last event, a 12-mile ruck march through the Camp Ripley Training Area.

“We are all in agreement that we want the best Soldiers to go forward representing the Minnesota National Guard and we will achieve that by challenging and motivating each other,” added Wortham.

Of the 13 competitors, only two will advance to the regional competition. For Minnesota, Sgt. 1st Class Adam Kelly of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, earned NCO of the Year and Pfc. Ryan Eiler of the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, earned Soldier of the Year.

“I am very proud of all the participants and the effort they each put into this very difficult competition. I have faith and confidence that our ‘Best Warriors’ will honorably represent the Minnesota Army National Guard at the Region IV competition next month,” concluded Wortham.

by Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey
Camp Ripley Public Affairs