21st TSC competition determines Best Warrior

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Tramel S. Garrett
21st TSC Public Affairs

BAUMHOLDER, Germany ― It started with a social event. This was just a ploy to ease the minds of 11 warriors who were about to begin a grueling battle for supremacy. One by one each brigade sergeant major in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command stood up proudly and introduced their warriors. These warriors were the best of the best and were ready to proclaim the title, “21st TSC Best Warrior.”

Six noncommissioned officers and five Soldiers from throughout the 21st TSC came together May 15 to 19 to compete in the command’s annual Best Warrior Competition entitled “The Reckoning,” consisting of events here and in Lampertheim, Germany.

The competition, which was held to determine the Soldier and NCO who would represent the 21st TSC in the U.S. Army Europe-level competition, challenged not only each Soldier’s overall stamina, but also their physical and mental well-being.

The competition started with a written exam right after the social event. At the break of dawn the following day, the competitors showcased their level of physical fitness when the event continued with the Army physical fitness test.

During the test the Soldiers were closely graded while they gave it their all to make every repetition count. After a short break, the Soldiers began a rigorous 12-mile ruck march.

“The hardest thing was the 12-mile ruck march. It was definitely a challenge with the hills. You just have to keep pushing yourself,” said Sgt. James Byrnes, a military police officer with the 18th Military Police Brigade. “It was a very intense course made to ensure you had the heart to keep going.”

Command Sgt. Maj. James Spencer, the 21st TSC’s senior enlisted adviser, said many of the Soldiers had never been exposed to this level of intensity.

“A 23 percent uphill grade for a ruck march is a monumental task,” he said.

The 21st TSC began preparation for the competition about six months ago. Sgt. Maj. Brent Dick, the 21st TSC military intelligence section NCOIC, and Sgt. Maj. Bryon Starks, the 21st TSC Operations NCOIC, spearheaded the preparation and coordinated with numerous units to ensure the event would be successful as well as intense.

As a result, the scenarios were not only realistic, but also challenged the Soldiers’ technical and tactical knowledge.

“You cannot get battle focused training like this anywhere else,” said Pfc. Christopher Bidwell, a combat engineer with the 18th Eng. Bde. “This has been intense to say the very least.”

At the end of the exhausting course, which required competitors to drag casualties, provide first aid, navigate around obstacles and through a contaminated area, and more, the Soldiers still had to face three opponents in Army combatives.

In addition, for the first time ever, competitors were required to respond to a sexual assault situation.

“We added a sexual assault incident, which was intended to show how sexual assault could affect our combat power,” Command Sergeant Major Spencer said. “Regardless, if it’s a wound from downrange, training or sexual assault, we lose combat power.”

On the final day of the event, a ceremony was held on Panzer Parade Field in Kaiserslautern to recognize the competitors of the demanding four-day competition. This also gave them time to relax and enjoy friends and family before the winners were announced.

After all the hard work and determination the competitors knew there could only be two winners ― one NCO and one Soldier. As the crowd listened with anticipation, Command Sergeant Major Spencer announced the winners of the 21st TSC Best Warrior Competition: Sergeant Byrnes and Spc. Michael Perez-Arce, both from the 18th MP Bde.

“It felt really good to win,” Specialist Perez-Arce said. “When Command Sergeant Major Spencer announced the names, my heart started beating really fast. I didn’t know who the winner would be because it was a really close competition.”

“I’m absolutely confident that our Warrior and Warrior Leader of the Year winners will go to the USAREUR level and have all the potential to win at that level and the Army level,” Command Sergeant Major Spencer said.