Despite thick rain and looming clouds, 15 Soldiers from across eight states battled it out at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to determine the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier for Region VI May 14 through 17.
At the end of the grueling competition, South Dakota Army National Guard Spc. Bailey Ruff was named Soldier of the Year and Oregon ARNG Sgt. Dane Moorehead was named NCO of the Year. Second place honors went to Wyoming’s Sgt. Wyatt Schiermeyer and North Dakota’s Sgt. Timothy Sybryant.
The regional competition, hosted by the Alaska Army National Guard, turned up the intensity from the unit and state competitions. The competitors were tested physically and mentally as their knowledge and abilities were tried under immense pressure in a competitive environment.
“I wanted each competitor to be tested up to their breaking point without breaking any one,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Marc Petersen, Alaska Army National Guard state command sergeant major, who wanted to add Alaska flavor to the events when possible. “I wanted safety first and foremost and also for the event to be memorable for the competitors.”
From an aerial platform shoot from an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to a canoe race across Otter Lake with reflections of the Chugach Mountains in the water and a summer cross-country biathlon range complete with a fat-tire bike ride down Arctic Valley Road, competitors experienced Alaska.
The Soldiers’ strength and endurance were tried through events requiring technical and tactical expertise, including combat-life saving, urban tactics, weapons proficiency, a road march, land navigation, an obstacle course, drill and ceremonies, uniform inspections, and a modified Army physical fitness test encompassing pull-ups and a 5-mile run.
Competitors’ knowledge about the Army and current events were tested with an essay, exam, on-camera interview and the command sergeant major oral board.
“The competitors had little opportunity to sleep while pushing through multiple events calculated to test the total Soldier concept of shoot, move and communicate,” said Sgt. Maj.Justin Shaffer, the AKARNG NCO in charge of the competition. “We hope that the winners will take away training value from here that will help them to better compete at the national level.”
“I hope experiences gained, friendships formed and possible injuries incurred will help the competitors to become more complete and resilient leaders,” Petersen said. “Whether they became the Region VI Best Warrior or not, I hope the competitors always maintain the warrior spirit they demonstrated and spread that spirit within their squad and beyond.”
Region VI includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.
Ruff and Moorhead will advance to the national competition this July at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, where they will compete against winners from regions that comprise the 54 states and territories. If they cannot compete, Schiermeyer and Sybryant will be ready if called.