FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Before the sun crested the horizon this morning, 22 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers began a grueling three-day gauntlet known as the Best Warrior Competition. The demanding competition pits Soldiers from across the state against each other as well as the limits of their own endurance, taking the measure not only of their physical fitness but their skills in land navigation, Soldier tasks, military bearing and composure.
“It tests their ability to perform difficult and challenging tasks in adverse situations,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, noting that participants would “compete with, and against, the best Soldiers throughout Wisconsin.”
These Soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 64th Troop Command, 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 426th Regional Training Institute, and the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion are vying for the honor of being named the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Best Warrior and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. The Soldiers who win those titles will represent Wisconsin at next month’s regional Best Warrior Competition where they will match up against their peers from six neighboring states.
Conde said event organizers increased the number of Soldiers competing in this year’s Best Warrior. Last year’s Best Warrior Competition featured 14 Soldiers.
“All of these Soldiers are winners through their various organizations, and they all have shown their tremendous ability to compete at a high level,” Conde said. “They are all great Warrior athletes.”
Conde said the Best Warrior Competition also allows Soldiers with different military jobs from different units to meet, bond and network.
The Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy is not open to the public, but photos and live updates throughout the event will be posted on the Wisconsin National Guard’s Facebook page.
Best Warrior competitors include:
Sgt. Camren Armbrust, 273rd Engineer Company, 641st Troop Command (Stetsonville, Wisconsin) | Spc. Travis Boldt, 248th Aviation Support Battalion (West Bend, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Jerome Etten, Company B, 257th Brigade Support Battalion (Menomonie, Wisconsin) | Spc. Justie Freund, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 127th Infantry (Eldorado, Wisconsin) | Staff Sgt. Anthony Grimm, 732nd Combat Sustainment Battalion headquarters (Evansville, Wisconsin) | Staff Sgt. Marvin Hannah, 426th Regional Training Institute (Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Jerl Johnson, Company A, 257th Brigade Support Battalion (Kenosha, Wisconsin) | Pfc. Griffin Kintopf, 1157th Transportation Company, 732nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Mera Lonsdorf, Headquarters Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion (Merrill, Wisconsin) | Spc. Joshua Maier, Company A, 257th Brigade Support Battalion Arlington, Wisconsin) | Pfc. Cole Mann, 950th Engineer Company, 724th Engineer Battalion (Rib Lake, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Michael Murnane, Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion (Sparta, Wisconsin) | Spc. Brittany Olson, Company C, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion (Mosinee, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Levi Parker, 54th Civil Support Team, 64th Troop Command (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Joseph Paul, Troop A, 1st Squadron 105th Cavalry (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) | Spc. Joseph Philbrick, Company A, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion (Little Chute, Wisconsin) | Staff Sgt. Jared Stewart, 950th Engineer Company, 724th Engineer Battalion (Siren, Wisconsin) | Spc. Erik Tollefson, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery (Marshfield, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Justin Turner, Detachment 1, Recruiting and Retention Battalion (Maple Grove, Minnesota) | Sgt. David Vogel, 132nd Army Band, 641st Troop Command (Milwaukee) | Sgt. Jason Wagner, Detachment 1, Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion 120th Field Artillery (Deerfield, Wisconsin) | Spc. Alexander Wilkinson-Johnson, Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron 105th Cavalry (Madison, Wisconsin)