To become a “best warrior” Soldiers need to “think big picture and don’t get stuck on a single topic,” U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s new Noncommissioned Officer of the Year said.
Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy and Spc. Charles Record were named TRADOC’s top Soldiers July 21 after a grueling week under the broiling South Carolina sun during the command’s best warrior competition held at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
“It was challenging,” McCarthy said after finishing the 12-mile ruck march in just under three hours. “The competitors here are top-notch from all TRADOC made it challenging in all events … Having the level of competition with these individuals, these NCOs definitely set the bar high.”
The BWC doesn’t just test Soldiers on “10-level skills, battle drill and basic knowledge,” said Record, a rigger with the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. “It tests Soldiers in all the skills they should know.”
Some people believe “TRADOC Soldiers aren’t as hooah as other Soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, TRADOC’s senior enlisted leader, prior to announcing the winners. “I guarantee if you talk to the men and women on that field, and they would tell you they are just as hooah as anyone in the Army.”
One way to do that was to be fit, disciplined and well-trained. The three outcomes were tested rigorously over the week.
Competitors faced medical testing Monday; an Army Physical Fitness Test, combatives and appeared before a board Tuesday; Victory Tower, weapons qualification and a live-fire exercise Wednesday; the Fit to Win 2 obstacle course and situational training exercises Thursday; and culminated with the Friday morning ruck march.
Hot, humid temperatures and a surprise event threw the competitors for a loop. High temperatures caused distractions while wearing body armor during STX lanes testing, while some events had to be paused as nightly thunderstorms rolled in.
Competitors faced a task not many, especially junior enlisted Soldiers, would see every day — writing an operations order and planning a platoon training event in under two hours.
“The mystery event caught me off guard,” said McCarthy, a Sapper Leaders Course instructor at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. “Going into this, they told us they were evaluating us on the total Soldier concept. When you are thinking PT, weapons, technical and physical event as well” it can be difficult to do a mystery task.
“It caught me off guard.”
“They gave us two hours to plan and brief a platoon training event,” Record said while resting his feet for a few minutes after completing the foot march. “It took all of two hours.”
The weather threw another curveball at the competitors that made some Soldiers have trouble concentrating.
Spc. Nicholas Bellamy from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy said he’s “from El Paso, Texas, so I’m sucking straight air. I’m’ always looking for oxygen any chance I can get it.”
“The weather is pretty challenging down here,” McCarthy said.
For Spc. Kiara Dale, Fort Jackson’s Soldier of the Year, the competition was challenging because she was the lone female in a field of men.
“It’s more of a challenge because they don’t think we can keep up with a guy,” she said.
Dale nearly choked out Spc. Morgun Yogore during the combatives event that pitted competitors against each other in a round-robin style tournament.
Whether Soldiers won or not, they were glad the BWC is completed.
“Honestly, it’s a big relief,” Dale said after the awards ceremony. “I finally made it to the end and I’m so excited. I thought Friday would never come honestly.”
(Editor’s note: Mark Manicone contributed to this report.)