Local soldier participates in Best Warrior Competition
Iowa Army National Sgt. Vinh Phan of Davenport, a supply sergeant with Fairfield’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 224th Engineer Battalion, recently participated in the Iowa Army National Guard’s Best Warrior competition.
Twenty-four soldiers competed in the three-day contest April 9-12 at Camp Dodge in Johnston. The soldiers, selected statewide, found their military skills and knowledge challenged, as well as their physical endurance. The two winners would earn the title of the Iowa Army National Guard’s Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Competition consisted of 12 events, including a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation with compass, an obstacle course, marksmanship, a written exam and a 10-mile rucksack march.
Command Sgt. Maj. John H. Breitsprecker, the Iowa National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, said the competition is designed to test the skills soldiers need in combat, while providing a great training experience.
“What we have found is those who participate tend to be our platoon sergeants and first sergeants of the future,” Breitsprecker said.
Phan felt the challenge offered by the competition suited his character.
“I’m a hands-on, get-out-there and do it kind of guy. I love this stuff,” Phan said. “All you can do is study, train and do your best.”
The senior noncommissioned officer for this year’s event, Command Sgt. Maj. Allen Myers of the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center, noted soldiers must have a good physical fitness base to do well in the competition.
“We can train soldiers to memorize tests, but we can’t train them in physical talent,” said Myers. Besides recognition as “Iowa’s Best Warrior,” soldiers achieve their “satisfaction level by the blood, sweat and tears they put into it,” he added.
The Best Warrior Competition has been held since the mid-1990s. This year’s winners advance to next month’s regional competition at Camp Marseilles, Ill., where they’ll compete with Army National Guard Soldiers from seven states for the opportunity to advance to the national competition.
For questions concerning the operations, training, and activities of the Iowa Army and Air National Guard, contact Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa National Guard public affairs officer, at 515-252-4582 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Master Sgt. Duff E. McFadden at 515-252-4666 or email@example.com.