Andersons Named Maryland’s Best Warriors
By Staff Sgt. Thaddeus Harrington, Maryland National Guard Public Affairs
The Maryland Army National Guard completed its 2013 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation April 21, 2013, to determine the year’s best Soldier and noncommissioned officer. Sgt. Delvon Anderson was named the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Spc. Robert Anderson was named the Soldier of the Year. Although the two share the same last name, they are not related.
Six Soldiers competed in the 3-day event to represent their respective brigades. The 58th Troop Command, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade and 58th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade each sent a Soldier and an NCO to compete.
“I was selected by my company to go to the battalion board. I beat the rest of the battalion there,” said Sgt. William White, 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, 58th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade and NCO of the Year runner-up. “I went to the brigade board and got a victory there. This is my first time at the state competition.”
This was a first-time experience for many, but Delvon Anderson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, was no stranger to this type of competition. He won Maryland’s Soldier of the Year competition as a specialist in 2011 and won the 29th CAB’s NCO of the Year competition while deployed to Kuwait in 2012.
“I’ve done the state competition once and the brigade competition three times,” said Sgt. Anderson. “The competitors this time are harder than the competitors I faced back in 2011. The challenge this time was definitely a little bit tougher.”
The Army’s BWC started in 2001, and the Maryland Army Guard has held the BWC annually since 2009. Some of the minimum requirements for the competition are an Army Physical Fitness Test score of 225 or above, level I certification in Modern Army Combatives, Combat Lifesaver certification and a rating of sharpshooter or above with the Soldier’s assigned weapon.
Qualified privates through specialists compete for Soldier of the Year while corporals through sergeants first class compete for NCO of the Year.
The Soldiers woke before sunrise to participate in the competition’s first event, an APFT. After breakfast, the Maryland Army National Guard’s best warriors competed in a round robin series of events that reflected real life combat situations.
The events included maintaining an M240B machine gun, performing a functions check on an M2 .50-caliber machine gun, performing first aid for a severed bleeding extremity, operating a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, using visual signaling techniques, donning the M40 protective mask and performing a vehicle search. After the events, the Soldiers prepared for the land navigation event through the woods of Camp Fretterd.
“It’s a really good learning experience. I’m glad to be here, and hope I can do it again next year,” said Pfc. Gregory Hobbs, 1st Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade. “My least favorite event was the land navigation. That’s something I need to work on for next year.”
The last event of the day was qualifying on an M16 rifle using the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, an indoor weapon simulator. Once qualified, the Soldiers ended the event with a stress shoot. They ran up a hill and then back down to put stress on their bodies. The Soldiers engaged targets in a scenario projected on the EST 2000 when they returned.
Day two consisted of a 7-mile tactical road march event. Soldiers carried 35-pound packs in addition to water and other tactical gear. Gunpowder Military Reservation, home to Maryland’s B Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, provided a formidable route. All the Soldiers completed the 2-hour march with at least 25 minutes to spare.
“This particular ruck march had a killer hill that we had to do twice. That was pretty much terrible,” said Robert Anderson, 104th Area Support Medical Company, 58th Troop Command. “It’s been a great and fun experience. I think I would be open to doing it again next year, hopefully competing in the NCO competition instead.”
When asked his thoughts on the competition, Sgt. Trevor Nichols, 253rd Engineer Company, 58th Troop Command said, “It was a great honor. I think everyone should want to do this if they’re up for it and as squared away as they think they are.”
The third day consisted of what many of the participants dreaded the most—the board appearance. Five command sergeants major questioned the competitors on different subjects from the Korean War to the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer.
“My least favorite event is the board,” said Spc. Samuel Clark, 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, 58th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade and Soldier of the Year runner-up. “I don’t like speaking in front of people, but it’s a part of (the competition).”
“We’ve been fine-tuning this thing for the past four or five years to try to make it competitive, where we could really stress and challenge
you,” said Command Sgt. Major Brian Sann, Maryland National Guard senior enlisted leader. “Whoever wins this competition deserves to win and is the best representative to go on to the regional competition.”