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Meet 2018’s Best Warrior Contenders

One of the toughest tests of a warrior’s resolution and training is the Best Warrior Competition. The competition is a multi-day marathon of mental and physical trials, pushing these elite service members to their limits. This year’s competition is conducted at multiple locations throughout Maryland. This year’s competition includes junior enlisted, noncommissioned officers, and commissioned officers of the Maryland Army and Air National Guard as well as soldiers from the Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Estonian Defence Forces.

Soldier Competitors:

Pfc.

Joseph Breining

MOS/Position: 31B – military police
Unit: 115th MP Bn.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’ve been working out for a long time now. So physically I’ve been ready. But mentally, I just needed to improve upon myself from the brigade level. I learned what I’m weak at and try to improve it.”

Senior Airman

David Burke

MOS/Position: 1N4 – fusion analyst
Unit: 135th Intel Squadron
Component: Maryland Air National Guard
“I have a steady mindset, I can deal with uncomfortable situations physically and mentally, and stress doesn’t really affect me too much.” 

Pvt.

Ermin Hajrić

MOS/Position: Scout
Unit: Recon Company, 6th Inf. Bde.
Component: Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina
“I feel excited right now. I can’t wait to start. I was here two years ago. It was awesome. I think this year will be more awesome than the last time.”

Sgt.

Kristjan Mägi

MOS/Position: Infantryman
Unit: Kuperjanov Bn., 2nd Bde., EDF
Component: Estonian Defence Forces
“I was a professional cross-country skier so I’m physically in shape, and I hope that I am better than the others.”

Spc.

Saum Salehi

MOS/Position: 11B – Infantryman
Unit: 2-20th SF Group (Abn.), Augmentation Det.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’m consistent, keep level headed and carry out the task.”

Spc.

Gerald Villimar

MOS/Position: 35N – signal intelligence analyst
Unit: 629th MI Bn.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’m excited to compete with my fellow soldiers. I prepared by hiking and (relaxed by) hanging out with friends and family beforehand.”

Spc.

Timothy Wilkins

MOS/Position: 15U – CH-47 helicopter repairer
Unit: Det. 1, D Co., 3-126th GSAB (Lift)
Component: Maryland Army National Guard

“I have more life experience outside of the Army than some of the other guys will have, I’ve been through some rough times in my life… so I feel like I can dig a little deeper when the going gets rougher out here in the field.”

NCO Competitors:

Sgt.

Dominic Barnwell

MOS/Position: 11B – infantryman
Unit: C Co., 1-175 Inf. Regt.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’ve been working with Sgt. Contic who won last year, and I have been getting my mind ready.”

Staff Sgt.

Matthew Gilbertz

MOS/Position: Intel NCO
Unit: 110th IO Bn.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I try to attack every challenge that comes my way with all the effort that I have. That’s all I can ask of myself on each one of these events”

Sgt.

Matija Ivaković

MOS/Position: Squad Leader
Unit: 3rd Inf. Bn., 6th Inf. Bde, AFBiH
Component: Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina
“I feel good about the competition. I’ve been running and training with weapons.”

Sgt. 1st Class

Aleksandr Varikov

MOS/Position: NCO School First Sergeant
Unit: National Defence College NCO School, EDF
Component: Estonian Defence Forces
“I think I am prepared for the competition, because all the things that we will do are things that we do as soldiers.”

Officer Competitors:

1st Lt.

Norman Loomis

MOS/Position: 13A – field artillery officer
Unit: 110th IO Bn.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’m able to react in stressful situations, athletic, and a problem solver.”

2nd Lt.

Christofer Smith

MOS/Position: 11A – infantry officer
Unit: Det. 1, D Co., 1-175 Inf. Regt.
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I want to take away something that I didn’t know before.”

2nd Lt.

Raul Reiljan

MOS/Position: Platoon commander
Unit: Kuperjanov Bn., 2nd Bde., EDF
Component: Estonian Defence Forces
“I am quite calm. I like to take things rationally, and I like to think through things and prepare.”

1st Lt.

Nicholas Riesett

MOS/Position: 11A – infantry officer, currently a T.A.C. officer at OCS
Unit: 1st Bn. (OCS), 70th RTI
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I’m feeling pretty good. I definitely think there’s some stiff competition out here. So we’ll see how we do. I’m just looking to have some fun and compete with these guys.”

2nd Lt.

Marko Vidovic

MOS/Position: Platoon leader, infantry
Unit: 1st Inf. Bn., 4th Inf. Bde., AFBiH
Component: Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina
“I feel very excited. I like challenges. I can’t wait for everything to start.”

Capt.

Jonathan Woodworth

MOS/Position: 66H – medical-surgical nurse
Unit: 104th ASMC
Component: Maryland Army National Guard
“I prepared mentally…when I was commuting to work on the train… I would study different materials.Traveling to and from the train station I would do some running and rucking.”