The Army Reserve’s 7th Mission Support Command on Daenner Kaserne held its 2017 Best Warrior competition over three days in January.
Spc. Baholo Maphiri from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, won the Best Warrior Competition enlisted Soldier category, while Sgt. Erin Hodge, from the office of the surgeon, won the noncommissioned officer BWC title in a close contest with Sgt. Peter Bickelhaupt, from HHC, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, Jan. 22 through 24.
The events covered many different training scenarios and environments, including a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear event; providing first aid to a casualty; a 10K ruck march; an Army Physical Fitness Test; and facing questions from a sergeants major board after a uniform inspection in ASUs with marching and facing movements.
“The toughest event was the APFT because of the cold,” Bickelhaupt said.
It was so frigid during the APFT run that icicles formed on Hodge’s eyelashes and her hair.
“The competitors gave one-hundred percent and really put their heart into it,” Master Sgt. Richard Silva, senior command retention NCOIC and BWC director said. “They were out there running an APFT in (minus) 14 (degrees) Celsius without any complaints because that’s what warriors do.”
They epitomized the Warrior Ethos and are a testament to the profession of arms, Silva added.
“The ruck march was my favorite,” Bickelhaupt said. “It was really fun.”
The Soldiers also had to write an essay about the importance of a college education to enlisted Soldiers and pass a timed written exam on basic Army knowledge, history, doctrine and the chain of command.
The competition between the competitors was intense but at the same time they worked together as a team and looked to each other for extra motivation in the below freezing temperatures.
“We bonded,” Bickelhaupt added. “It was a team building competition.”
This was Bickelhaupt’s second best warrior competition, but first with the Army Reserve. He last participated in a BWC when he was active-duty Army stationed with 16th Sustainment Brigade at Baumholder before he joined the 7th MSC.
“It didn’t feel like a competition,” Hodge said. “We shared stories with each other. The ruck march (was my biggest) challenge. The CBRN lane was easiest for me because we did a lot (of CBRN training) at my last unit.”
This was Hodge’s first BWC.
“It’s fun, it’s awesome,” Maphiri said. “Its great training.”
The CBRN training lane was the first time Maphiri had seen the new Mission Oriented Protective Posture suit.
“This was my most challenging event,” Maphiri said.
They had to don a full MOPP suit in eight minutes, Maphiri added.
“Weapons assembly was my strongest event so far and anything medical,” Maphiri said.
Maphiri said he did a lot of physical fitness training and biking in preparation for this competition.
Even though the competitors bonded during the competition, each entrant also had an individual NCO sponsor. Each coach played a key role in the competitor’s preparation and execution as advisor, mentor and de facto teammate.
Hodge’s sponsor, Sgt. 1st Class Juan Perez, the OSURG NCOIC, said, “It is a little nerve racking, because you want to help them more than you’re allowed to.”
This was Perez’s first time as a sponsor.
“I try to put myself in her shoes,” Perez said about Hodge. “She has taken the initiative to a lot on her own. I just gave her a few spot quizzes on basic Soldiering.”
Maphiri and Hodge are now scheduled to compete as the 7th MSC enlisted Soldier and NCO competitors in the upcoming 21st TSC and U.S. Army Reserve Command’s BWCs.