Libertyville soldier wins ‘Best Warrior’ competition
Fairfield High School 2009 graduate, Sgt. Jacob Guck, of the Iowa Army National Guard, is the state’s noncommissioned officer “Best Warrior” this year.
The annual Best Warrior Competition tests a soldier’s mental, physical and emotional toughness and endurance. The three–day competition is divided into junior enlisted and noncommissioned officer categories.
Guck, the son of John and Kathy Guck in Libertyville, joined the National Guard in December 2008 and is trained as a combat medic. He is currently a member of 134th Medical Company, 67th Troop Command at Camp Dodge.
Guck was last year’s runner-up in the Best Warrior competition.
“I like competing, running and working out,” said Guck, who is graduating May 10 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in civil engineering at Iowa State University.
As Iowa’s winner, he moves on to regional competition May 12 at Camp Riley, Minnesota, which involves winners from seven states. National competition will be held at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“I’m hoping to win,” Guck said. “Competition begins within the company, then within the battalion. The state competition is among all the brigades in Iowa. Those winners advance to regionals.”
Guck received the Army Achievement Medal for his state win.
The test involves more than physical prowess. While it does include the Army physical fitness test and a 12-mile road march with a 35-pound rucksack, the competition also tests soldiers in rifle and pistol qualification, land navigation with a map and compass and a written exam which tests military knowledge. Each competitor faced a personal review board, which evaluated their appearance, military bearing and knowledge of critical Army topics.
“You have to pay attention to Army regulations and Warrior tasks,” said Guck. “You must be physically fit and ready to perform so you don’t have to play catch-up.”
State Command Sgt. Maj. Rachel Fails, the command sergeant major for the Iowa Army National Guard, stressed how it takes teamwork, from both the competitors and their units, to prepare soldiers for this demanding competition.
“The competition gives soldiers a sense of pride in themselves, as well as in their unit and their battalion,” said Fails.
Guck’s career in the National Guard includes enlisting in Fairfield, initial training in San Antonio, Texas, serving with a unit in Ottumwa and now Camp Dodge.
“In June, I transfer to an infantry company in Council Bluffs,” he said. “I’ll still be a combat medic.
“After graduation, and the regionals’ Best Warrior competition, I start a full-time job May 27 with The ESCO Group in Des Moines,” said Guck. “I can leave the National Guard in December, or I can stay in. I’d really like to attend some more specialty schools in the Army, and I will apply for Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinders and Ranger schools. I don’t know if I’ll be selected or if the budget will be there for National Guard soldiers to attend.”
Meanwhile, he will continue working out and staying competitive.