It’s not easy becoming the best

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Sgt. James Barnett (left) is named NCO of the Year, Spc. Zachary Cox (center) is named Soldier of the Year and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lewis is named Senior NCO of the Year at the Kentucky Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky. Oct. 29, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Sgt. James Barnett (left) is named NCO of the Year, Spc. Zachary Cox (center) is named Soldier of the Year and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lewis is named Senior NCO of the Year at the Kentucky Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky. Oct. 29, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

GREENVILLE, Ky.Kentucky Guardsmen competed in what was billed as the most challenging Best Warrior Competition yet at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Oct. 27-29.

No one disagreed with that assessment.

“This competition was the most comprehensive that we’ve ever done in the state,” said state Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden. “As we’ve seen these Best Warrior competitions evolve over the years, we’ve realized we needed to improve ours here and add more demanding, thorough events.”

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For three days, competitors were tested mentally and physically in the staples of such competitions including Army Warrior Tasks, land navigation and weapon qualification. But new events like the confidence course and combat run only added to the physical toll taken by a 10-mile road march and expanded stress shoot.

“This experience is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, physically and mentally, there was a lot that played into it,” said Sgt. James Barnett from the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery and this year’s NCO of the Year.

“One thing that I will take from this is to constantly push yourself, realizing you’re one step closer to being done with it. Whether I finished, won or lost, I know I put everything I had into this and left nothing out there.”

Barnett said he will look forward to doing it again if selected but had some advice for new competitors next year.

“Ruck, study and run, that’s the three keys to success,” said Barnett.

Soldiers with Kentucky’s 238th Regimental Training Institute assisted with the organization of the event and oversaw the execution and scoring. After scores from each day were tallied, no clear winner emerged until the last day’s events, something competitors could see from their perspectives.

“Competition was fierce, all the way to the end and everyone that came here was qualified to be named Best Warrior,” said Spc. Phillip Henson from Detachment 1, 207th Horizontal Construction Company.

“We can go back to our units with everything we’ve learned up to this point and continue to utilize that information to train new Soldiers and ourselves. This will better prepare us as Soldiers in the Kentucky National Guard.”

The expanded event also gave the Kentucky Guard and the 238th a good rehearsal for the Regional Best Warrior Competition that Kentucky will host in Greenville in April of 2017.

 

Soldier of the Year

SPC CoxSpc. Zachary Cox

Bravo Co. 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry

 

NCO of the Year

SGT BarnettSgt. James Barnett

Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery

 

Senior NCO of the Year

SFC LewisSgt. 1st Class Timothy Lewis

Bravo Co. 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry