FORT MCCOY, Wis. — A select group of 20 Soldiers in the Wisconsin Army National Guard competed in the 2021 State Best Warrior Competition April 16-18 at Fort McCoy.
Ten non-commissioned officers and 10 Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard contended in the three-day state-level event for the opportunity to represent Wisconsin in the upcoming regional Best Warrior Competition at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, next month.
Spc. Timothy Hicks with Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, will compete in the regional competition as Wisconsin’s Soldier of the Year, and Sgt. Savannah Lipinski with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion will compete as Wisconsin’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
“I think competition makes us better,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader. “We’ve got the best of the best here this weekend and everyone wants to do better than the person next to them.
“I’m glad we were able to have the competition this year,” he said. “I hope that these Soldiers are exposed to something they’re uncomfortable with this weekend so that they can go back to their squads and their teams to make the organization better overall.”
For three days competitors from all over Wisconsin faced off against one another in challenges that tested their mental and physical aptitudes. Events included the Army Physical Fitness Test, M4 carbine, M17 pistol and M249 machine gun qualifications, physical appearance board, essay, land navigation, call for fire, simulated medical range, written test, 12-mile ruck march, and hand grenade qualification.
“If you’re going to take part in the Best Warrior Competition find somebody who’s gone through the competition and ask them for advice about the competition,” said Sgt. Kendall Kaatz of Company H, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “It’s a fun competition but very difficult. It’s best to prepare as much as you can.”
The state Best Warrior competition is designed to test the fortitude of the competitors taking part in it. Soldiers and NCOs had hectic days – the events of the competition were kept a secret from them until they showed up at various courses. In addition, competitors operated on very little sleep between the days of competition.
“It’s awesome that my unit chose me to come over here and compete,” said Sgt. Thomas Kundinger with the 829th Engineer Company. “I’ve been training for a few months now. In and out of the gym and studying the NCO creed and board questions for the competition.”
The Indiana National Guard will host the regional Best Warrior Competition May 13-16 at Camp Atterbury.