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593rd ESC Best Warrior Competition

Four-day competition identifies the best of the best

Spc. Oscar Ortiz, 542nd Support Maintenance Company, 13th CSSB, provides casualty care during the medical lanes April 19 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Miriam Espinoza

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The 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command named the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, 1st Sgt. of the Year, Junior Officer of the Year, Warrant Officer of the Year, and Soldier of the Year April 25.

The competition took place April 17 to April 20. It is an Army tradition to have competitions within units to recognize the best soldiers in the organization. Soldiers compete at the unit level to move on to compete at the battalion then move on to the next higher headquarters.

The winners were announced five days after the final event at the Lancer Dining Facility April 25.

Soldier of the Year - Spc. Oscar Ortiz, 542nd Support Maintenance Company, 13th CSSB

Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year - Staff Sgt. Gregory Tainatongo, Echo, 47th Combat Support Hospital, 62nd Medical Brigade

1st Sgt. of the Year - 1st Sgt. Heather Buxton, 514 Ground Ambulance, 56th MMB, 62nd Medical Brigade

Chief Warrant Officer of the Year - Chief Warrant Officer 2 Raul Almendarez, 24th Composite Supply Company, 13th CSSB

Junior Officer of the Year - 1st Lt. Saunghun Ann, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 62nd Medical Brigade

"The Best Warrior Competition is a competition that identifies the best competitor in each category of competition, while they also gain valuable skills and learn more about themselves," said Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela K. Williams, 593rd ESC.

Twenty soldiers ranging from the ranks of private through captain were selected by their command to represent their unit in the competition.

"The Best Warrior Competition recognizes soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos, and represent the force of the future," said Brig. Gen. James S. Moore, commanding general, 593rd ESC.

The soldiers' reason for competing was because they wanted to push themselves, the leaders on the other hand wanted to lead by example.

"I ask my soldiers to go to boards and achieve so I wanted to do the same," said 1st Sgt. Heather Buxton, 514th Ground Ambulance, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion.

The four-day competition tested the competitors both physically and mentally through grueling events and little time to rest.

"The purpose of the events during the competition was to identify the best of the best in each of the five categories and to promote esprit de corps amongst all the units within the ESC," said Master Sgt. Brian Evans, event coordinator, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd ESC.

During the four days of competition, the candidates completed an Army Physical Fitness test, qualified with both the M9 pistol and the M4 carbine, maneuvered through an obstacle course, did both the day and night land navigation course, completed an eight-mile ruck march carrying approximately 45 pounds, conducted Tactical Combat Casualty Care lanes and completed the Soldier Readiness Test.

"It was a long and grueling competition, but a lot of it was mind over matter," said 1st Lt. Lilian Andry, 523rd CTC, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. Andry, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, entered into the competition to support her soldier, who was also a competitor.

Although it was a competition, teamwork and cohesion is what made the competition a success for most of the competitors, who relied on each other to get through the long days and tough obstacles.

"I really enjoyed the camaraderie between everyone; we got to know each other and there are really good leaders and soldiers that I got to know throughout the competition," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Myers, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 56th MMB.

The competitors relied on each other and motivated one another throughout the days of competition. Every day the competitors waiting on the sidelines shouted words of encouragement as others were attempting the task in front of them.

The winner of the competition will move on to represent the ESC at the I Corps Best Warrior Competition scheduled in May.

"The soldiers and leaders came out and challenge themselves above and beyond; I could not thank the unit leadership enough for encouraging them throughout the four-day competition," said Williams.

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