21st TSC holds Best Warrior competition

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Taylor
21st TSC Public Affairs

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — An intelligence analyst, medical noncommissioned officer and engineer platoon leader earned the distinction as the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s top warriors during a grueling four-day Best Warrior competition held here May 17 to 21.

Soldiers pushed to the maximum of their physical and mental stress levels to become the command’s Best Warrior, Best Warrior Leader and Best Warrior Officer.

“My favorite part of the competition was combatives, because that’s where I got this nice little scar on my face, and I was able to experience a real-life fighting scenario,” said the 2012 Best Warrior, Pfc. Richard B. Shepard, an intelligence analyst with the 21st Special Troops Battalion and a native of San Diego.

“The military operations on urban terrain site simulated real-life events that Soldiers don’t get to experience too often, and it helped to prepare us and train us and to take something away from it that we wouldn’t normally get from regular training,” Shepard said.

Staff Sgt. Devin W. Allred, a medical NCOIC with the 15th Engineer Battalion, was named the contest’s Best Warrior Leader.

“It’s a big relief. It was a really rigorous and stiff competition. There were a lot of great noncommissioned officers to compete against and learn from,” said Allred, who is a native of Richfield, Utah. “I am just happy that I was able to be fortunate enough to come out on top and learn a lot.”

“Without a doubt, the urban environment situation training exercise lane was my favorite part of the competition,” said 1st Lt. Thomas P. Malejko, the 2012 Best Warrior Officer, a platoon leader with the 541st Engineer Company and a native of Allamuchy, N.J.

During the competition, Soldiers were constantly engaged with a variety of tasks, survived with minimum sleep and faced surprises around every corner.

The surprises started early in the competition with the Soldiers being administered a written exam during what they thought was just a meet-and-greet session at 7 p.m. the night prior to the actual start of the events.

The next morning started early for the competitors with a physical fitness test around 5 a.m. Immediately following the PT test, the Soldiers moved to a lengthy obstacle course. The goal was to correctly navigate through the 18 obstacles as fast as they could.

Following that challenge, the competitors were faced with an M9, M16 stress shoot/reflective fire range, which in turn was followed by a day land navigation course, occupied bivouac site and night land navigations course. Throughout all the challenges, the Soldiers were still responsible for performing security details, maintenance and improving fighting positions. And that was just day one for the competitors.

The Soldiers soon learned that the following days would not be any easier. On day two, they faced three hands-on STX lanes along with a react-to-contact scenario, which took place that evening.

On day three, the Soldiers faced a MOUT site, which was infused with an Army combatives station that tested the Soldiers combatives abilities to the fullest by forcing them to face three opponents at the same time. They also appeared before a field board, fired the M2 weapons system, performed physical readiness training, and a mystery event.

During the mystery event the Soldiers were captured and had to escape from their captors and navigate their way back to safety.

On the fourth and final day, the competitors conducted a 12-mile foot march to complete the competition. Later that afternoon, a barbecue was
held to honor all the competitors, and during a presentations ceremony the winners were announced.

All the winners will go on to compete in the U.S. Army Europe competition in hope of ultimately making it to the Department of the Army level competition.