FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Before the sun crested the horizon this morning, 20 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.
“No specific military occupational specialty has an advantage and each and every competitor will be pushed to their physical and mental limits through the vast array of tasks that will be completed over the 64 hours of competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader.
These Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 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 two 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 in hopes of advancing to the national competition.
The state level Best Warrior Competition resumes this year following a one year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am so proud of the efforts of the Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with all of their efforts over the past 12 months to help turn the tide with the COVID pandemic, and with risk mitigations in place, I'm very excited to be able to hold this esteemed competition once again,” Patrouille said.
Competition to advance from the brigade level is just as competitive as the state level competition Patrouille said. Advancing to the state level competition is an honor in itself.
“With the operations tempo that the Wisconsin National Guard has had during the past 12 months with the COVID response, civil unrest, wildfire support as well as election support, I stand in awe at the level of commitment these competitors have put in, not only for the preparation for the Best Warrior Competition, but for their steadfast dedication to the citizens of the state of Wisconsin and the nation,” Patrouille said.
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. Stay tuned throughout the weekend.
Best Warrior competitors include:
Spc. John Augustyn, Troop A, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry (Lake Barrington, Illinois) | Spc. Dakota Barrix, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery (Tomah, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Matthew Broomhall, Detachment 1, 229th Engineer Company (Algoma, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Gabriel Dart, 106th Engineer Detachment (La Crosse, Wisconsin) | Spc. Timothy Hicks, Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion (La Crosse, Wisconsin) | Staff Sgt. Terrance Jepson, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry (Hortonville, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Kendall Kaatz, Company H, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion (Monona, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Thomas Kundinger, 829th Engineer Company (Hudson, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Joseph Lemancik, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery (Appleton, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Jacob Lewis, 54th Civil Support Team (Lake Mills, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Savannah Lipinski, Recruiting and Retention Battalion (Madison, Wisconsin) | Spc. Brian Mahan, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) | Pfc. Ian Majerus, Company G, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion (Campbellsport, Wisconsin) | Pfc. Alison Miceli, 1157th Transportation Company (Luxemburg, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Michael Murnane, Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion (Sparta, Wisconsin) | Sgt. Matthew Obrien, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry (Grafton, Wisconsin) | Spc. John Petri, 457th Chemical Company (Brookfield, Wisconsin) | Spc. Nathaniel Schmitt, Detachment 1, 229th Engineer Company (Little Chute, Wisconsin) | Spc. Ryan Walczak, Company D, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation (Madison, Wisconsin) | Spc. Yifu Zuo, Headquarters Company, 724th Engineer Battalion (River Falls, Wisconsin)