Kentucky hosts regional best warrior

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

Spc. Jackson Pride with the South Carolina National Guard competes in the combat run event during the National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., April 26, 2017. The 3.5 mile run was the culminating event of the competition and included tasks such as radioing a 9-line medical evacuation and responding to a chemical attack. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Spc. Jackson Pride with the South Carolina National Guard competes in the combat run event during the National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., April 26, 2017. The 3.5 mile run was the culminating event of the competition and included tasks such as radioing a 9-line medical evacuation and responding to a chemical attack. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — The best Guardsmen in the Southeast descended on the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., for the National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition, April 23-26.

After winning their state competitions, the top Soldier and NCO from each of the 10-states/territories in the region moved on the next step for a chance to compete nationally.

“We do these competitions so we can recognize the great accomplishments of outstanding Soldiers that will one day replace us as leaders in our organizations,” said Kentucky State Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden. “It’s an absolute honor for Kentucky to host such an event, and it’s an honor to serve with such fine Soldiers.”

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The grueling competition began in earnest with an early morning Army Physical Fitness Test. The Soldiers rarely slowed down for the next 72 hours. Events were stacked back-to-back-to-back to test the physical and mental toughness of each Soldier.

“This competition was so hard, and the level of competition was a step above,” said Sgt. James Barnett from Kentucky’s 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery. “The state competition was one of the toughest things I had ever done, but this one was even more difficult. My hat’s off to the winners. It was a great event.”

The usual Army tasks of weapon qualification, land navigation and ruck marches were bookended by demanding events such as the water survival test, stress shoot and a 3.5-mile combat run with added tasks throughout.

“This is for bragging rights for the entire region, it’s supposed to be hard,” said Munden. “This is our opportunity to test each Soldier and prepare them to compete against the best in the National Guard.”

Each state and territory in the region alternate hosting the event. Region III is made up of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Virgin Islands and Kentucky.

Opinions from competitors and state command sergeants major agreed that Kentucky and the training site were good hosts.

“As soon as we passed though that front gate, everything was dress right dress,” said Alabama State Command Sgt. Maj. Tonny Pridgen. “A lot of planning goes into these events and Command Sgt. Maj. Munden and Kentucky did a wonderful job.”

More than 40 support personnel from Kentucky’s 238th Regimental Training Institute assisted with the set-up and execution of the competition.

“This doesn’t happen without our support staff,” said Munden. “Everyone from our 238th RTI to the Air Guard MKT (Mobile Kitchen Trailer) played a part in the success of the event. We look forward to cheering on Georgia and Tennessee at the next level.”

Region III Soldier of the Year:

Spc. Richard Lively, 48th Brigade Combat Team, Georgia National Guard

Spc. Richard Lively, Georgia National Guard - National Guard Best Warrior Competition 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Region III NCO of the Year:

Staff Sgt. Dustin Rottero, Tennessee National Guard Recruiting & Retention Command

Staff Sgt. Dustin Rottero, Tennessee National Guard - National Guard Best Warrior Competition 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)