Spc. Matthew R. Sissel
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Knoxville — Iowa Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Steven M. Day, of Indianola and a machinist with Knoxville’s 3654th Maintenance Company, recently participated in the Iowa Army National Guard's Best Warrior competition.
Twenty-four Soldiers competed in the three-day contest, held April 9-12, at Camp Dodge in Johnston. The Soldiers, selected statewide, found their military skills and knowledge challenged, as well as their physical endurance. The two winners would earn the title of the Iowa Army National Guard's Soldier of the Year and Non-commissioned Officer of the Year.
Competition consisted of 12 events, including a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation with compass, an obstacle course, marksmanship, a written exam, and a 10-mile rucksack march.
Command Sgt. Maj. John H. Breitsprecker, the Iowa National Guard’s Senior Enlisted Advisor, said the competition is designed to test the skills Soldiers need in combat, while providing a great training experience.
“What we have found is those who participate tend to be our platoon sergeants and first sergeants of the future,” Breitsprecker said.
Day said he enjoys such challenges.
“It's fun to get out of my element and compete,” he said. “It pushes you further than normal, so you can see your strengths and weaknesses.”
The senior non-commissioned officer for this year’s event, Command Sgt. Maj. Allen Myers, of the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center, noted Soldiers must have a good physical fitness base to do well in the competition.
“We can train Soldiers to memorize tests, but we can’t train them in physical talent,” said Allen. Besides recognition as “Iowa’s Best Warrior,” Soldiers achieve their “satisfaction level by the blood, sweat and tears they put into it,” he added.
The Best Warrior Competition has been held since the mid-1990s. This year’s winners advance to next month’s regional competition at Camp Marseilles, Ill., where they’ll compete with Army National Guard Soldiers from seven states for the opportunity to advance to the national competition.