Maryland warrior returns home a hardened competitor
Article by Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg, 58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. — Spc.. Gerald L. Villamar, 33 years old, from the Laurel, Maryland based 629th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion, placed third in the 2018 U.S. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition from July 22 – 27, 2018.
Villamar arrived before sunrise to a busy Army National Guard training center with the ambition to take the title of best warrior. To get there, Villamar was previously named Best Warrior in both the Maryland National Guard and the Region II Best Warrior Competition. During this competition, Villamar endured 16 events. He completed formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, warrior tasks, and battle drills that test the entirety of a trained and ready soldier.
“The most challenging event was the 12-mile ruck march,” Villamar said. “I had practiced on trails, but not the road, which made it more difficult.”
The timed 12-mile ruck march involved carrying a 35-pound pack through the historic Gettysburg National Military Park, which was a major culminating event during the competition.
“The most significant accomplishment was competing and being able to finish the competition while facing all challenges that were brought upon us,” Villamar said, “The amount of rain that accumulated during the competition made it much more difficult, but we made it through without injury.”
Each of the seven regions sent two soldiers – one junior enlisted soldier and one noncommissioned officer – to compete. These soldiers came from Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin to compete.
“It’s nice to compete with soldiers around the seven regions,” Villamar said. “To hear their stories and learn their backgrounds throughout the competition was humbling for me.”
Villamar described his experience with the other competitors as a total win.
“Although I did not take first in this competition, I was able to build camaraderie with everyone involved,” he said.
Villamar plans to apply this experience to his own unit to become a mentor to future soldiers who may also participate in the Best Warrior Competition.
Maj. Michael A. Bryant, 629th EMIB commander, said he couldn’t be more proud of Villamar.
“He is a true citizen-soldier and has proven to be physically fit, mentally sound, and a true professional,” Bryant said. “I am happy to have his talents within the 629th EMIB.”
Spc. Bailey Ruff, from the South Dakota National Guard, and Sgt. Jordy Brewer, from the Kentucky National Guard, finished as the Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year at the 2018 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition.
The 2018 Maryland National Guard Best Warrior Competition was held in March. Junior enlisted, noncommissioned officers, and commissioned officers of the Maryland Army National Guard, Air National Guard, as well as soldiers from the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Estonian Defense Forces competed. The 2018 competition was the largest that the MDNG has hosted and holds distinction for including officers and its State Partnership Program nations.