Air Defense dominates the USAREUR Best Warrior Soldier category, two years running

U.S. Army Col. Timothy MacDonald (left), 18th Military Police Brigade, Spc. Justin Rivard (center), air and missile defense crewmember, 10th Air and Missile Defense Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert V. Abernethy (right), senior enlisted advisor of United States Army Europe, present Spc. Rivard with an ARCOM for winning the Soldier category of the U.S. Army Europe European Best Warrior Competition at Hohenfels Training Area, July 31. The competition is an annual event for competitors assigned to United States Army Europe and United States Army Africa. Officers, noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers compete in separate categories and are evaluated on general military, physical fitness and common military tasks. Winners in the NCO and junior enlisted categories will advance to represent U.S. Army Europe at the Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Virginia. For more information about the competition, visit Photo by Spc. Austin Riel

The U.S. Army Europe Best Warrior Competition is an event that recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army Values, themselves and the units they represent. For two consecutive years, Soldiers in the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (5-4 ADAR) have won the United States Army Europe Best Warrior Competition in the Soldier category.

It is an honor to win a prestigious competition and bring a trophy back to your unit, to show the rest of the Army how good your organization is. For this pair of friends, it is a feeling they can share forever.
Spc. Justin Rivard, an air and missile crewman assigned to the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, was announced as the 2020 U.S. Army Europe’s Best Warrior in the Soldier category on July 31 at Hohenfels Training Area.
Spc. Rivard decided to compete for the best warrior this year to push himself and because of his admiration for last year’s winner Spc. Tyler Russell, an Air Defense Management Systems Operator, also assigned to the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
Rivard said Russell helped motivate him to succeed. “I am very good friends with the guy that won last year. We both look at each other differently. I look at him as an outstanding rolemodel and I like to think he looks at me the same way. He is very humble, and kind — his support was important to me.”

U.S. Army Spc. Justin Rivard, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, plots his next grid point on the land navigation course during the U.S. Army Europe European Best Warrior Competition at U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Training Area, July 26.
Photo by Spc. Denice Lopez

Russell gave Rivard his full support throughout the train-up. “I watched as he worked out, then took what I needed to build my training regimen for what I thought I needed to set myself apart from the others.” Rivard said.

Spc. Justin Rivard, a team chief assigned to Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Ansbach, assembles a Radio and Defense Advanced GPS Receiver on Rhine Ordnance Barracks, June 3. Rivard won the Soldier category of the European Best Defender Competition and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for demonstrating professionalism, tactical proficiency, mental and physical toughness.
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson

Though they worked together closely, they have slightly different ideas of how to get mentally prepared for a competition. Russell contemplates on the people that matter to him most and utilizes the fear of disappointing them to motivate him to victory. While Rivard focuses on the pain of regret to push himself to the max.


“I can go to that space by reflecting on the pain of discipline, or pain of regret.” Rivard said. “The competition was just a way for me to push myself in each event, so I never had to worry about if I would regret not pushing myself far enough.”


Inspiration to win not only came from his fellow soldiers, but from his leadership as well, Rivard said.
“My platoon sergeant created opportunities for the entire squad to conduct warrior tasks and battle drills. It started out as being for my benefit, then the entire squad began to benefit from the training opportunity. That’s what makes me so proud to be a part of this battalion. They gave their full vote of confidence in me.”
Rivard found the experience to train and compete with soldiers from many different career fields exciting. He cherishes the opportunity to compete and win against competitors at such a high performance level.
“It is a different feeling when you want to give up, but to stick through it and look back at the fact that you didn’t quit, and couldn’t have done anything better, that is what makes this hit you hard”, Rivard said. To come out on top after all that hard work, makes it worthwhile.