Soldiers from across the country compete at Ft. Gordon to be the Best Warrior (WRDW-TV, March 10, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, March 10, 2012
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Who is the best warrior? That's what Fort Gordon is asking and soldiers from all over the country have been there for the past three days trying to prove they are.
Saturday was the last chance to prove it with hand-to-hand combat. Over the past week, the competition has had both mental and physical elements.
Mentally, the soldiers wrote an essay and tested their military knowledge. But they also competed with a physical fitness test , a 10K run, a marksmanship competition and of course, Saturday's hand-to-hand combat.
Six soldiers made it to this level.
"There's not a better competition than here to do this," said Sgt. Stanley Garrastazu. "You have the best of everyone from their units competing at this level and we're just trying to get one step further."
All six are members of the 335th Signal Command in the U.S. Army Reserves. They've come from Chicago to Tampa to prove they are the best in their command.
"Very tough competition today," Garrastazu said. "Everyone fought their hearts out and everyone just wanted to be the winner."
The final round was hand-to-hand combat and some say it's the most difficult event.
"I have to make sure I'm going out here with my battle buddies, with my friends, with my family and make sure I don't hurt them," said Spc. David Woulard. "That's the most challenging of all. Everything else is a breeze. It's not against each other. We don't have to physically intertwine with each other."
Some soldiers have been training for years for this competition.
"I have been training for three years trying to max out my PT test, weapons qualification, combatives level 1, level ,1 level 1," Woulard said. "I've gone to everything we needed to to make sure we come here, our certifications. I've probably gone to those classes twice."
But others were more last-minute entries.
"I had about three weeks heads up on this competition and I got every minute possible I could get into it," Garrastazu said.
But they all want the same thing: to win.
"I would be overjoyed to win this entire competition," Woulard said.
"It would mean everything to me," Garrastazu said.
But this is more than just a competition: it is some of the best training a soldier can get.
Sgt. 1st Class Mark Clarke is a cadre in the competition. This means he has over seen a lot of the details surrounding the Best Warrior Competition.
"These soldiers are trained beyond the normal workout. They get up early in the morning, 4 o'clock. They work extended hours, they go through tedious, hard situations," Clarke said.
Situations that have prepared them not only for this competition but for battle as well.
The winner of the competition will be announced Sunday. From there he will go on to compete in two more levels, the U.S. Army Reserve Command. Then, if they win that, they will compete nationwide to be the best warrior in the U.S. Army.