Arizona Army National Guard Soldiers compete for excellence

Arizona Army National Guard Soldiers compete for excellence

Arizona Army National Guard Spc. Sean McIntire (left), a generator mechanic, and Sgt. Conrad Tapin, a senior generator mechanic, both with the 3666th Maintenance Company, run to the next station of the training exercise during the Best Warrior competition at the Florence Military Training Center in Florence, Ariz. March 7, 2015. The results of the competition will be announced at the Outstanding Airman and Soldier of the Year Banquet at the Arizona Grand Resort March 23. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Ryan Scott)

PHOENIX - Grueling is the word that best describes the 2015 Arizona Army National Guard Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) and Soldier of the year competition held at Florence Military Reservation March 7 and 8, 2015.

“Grueling,” is also the exact word State Command Sergeant Major Patrick Powers uses to describe the two-day competition that includes a 12-mile ruck march with nine field stations dispersed throughout the march.

“This competition is important because it recognizes the excellence within the NCO and Soldier ranks,” said Powers.

Representing three brigades, there were 28 competitors made up of 10 Soldiers, 14 NCO’s, and four first sergeants in the Soldier and NCO categories.

“I am completely and totally impressed with the quality of the NCO’s and Soldiers in this competition,” said Powers. “Everyone finished the competition and I am extremely proud of their level of effort.”

This year the events included the evaluation of 18 core skills the Army deems critical to success on the battlefield including the El Presidente MP Pistol challenge, night land navigation course and a trip to Florenstan, a mock town that assessed reflexive fire skills by engaging moving targets through simulated buildings.

Powers said the event coordinators worked hard to prepare a rigorous competition that reflects the operational environments of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In years past the competition was held over four days, this year, the events were consolidated into two days. The goal was to mimic the fast operational temperature of the regional and national Soldier of the Year competition and save money for the State, explained Powers.

It was the anticipation of unique challenges that motivated Spc. Sean McIntire, 3666th Maintenance Company, to participate in the Soldier category.

“I thought it would be fun and it was,” said McIntire.

His favorite event was the ruck march because it put his body in physical stress and forced him to keep pushing himself.

“My motivations were the encouragement of my sponsor, Sgt. Conrad Tapia, and the BBQ they promised at the finish line,” McIntire said.

Tapia who is also part of the 3666th Maintenance Company said he was proud of sponsoring McIntire.

“This Soldier was highly motivated with a no quit attitude”, said Tapia.

According to Powers, each competitor has a sponsor whose role starts weeks before the competition. They ensure the NCO or Soldier has the tools and training to be successful.

“The sponsors are a key component of the competition,” said Powers. “Many of the sponsors are a senior NCO and they completed the Ruck right along the NCO’s and Soldiers in the competition."

The event was successful because we had great organizers, supportive sponsors and strong competitors, said Powers.

“We want to put forth strong competitors for the regional and possible national competitions because these Soldiers represent the Arizona Soldiers back home,"said Powers.