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Oregon National Guard's Best Warrior Challenge

WARRENTON, Ore. -- Approximately 100 soldiers and airmen arrived at Camp Rilea to compete in the 2010 Oregon National Guard's Best Warrior Challenge, May 21-23. This year's challenge consisted of four different events, the Best Warrior Challenge, The Adjutant General's Match, and Army Combative tournament, and the Squad Challenge for the Recruit Sustainment Program.

"I am very excited because the soldiers and airmen are super motivated," said Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley, State Command Sgt. Maj., Oregon Army National Guard. "Even though they are competing against each other, I have noticed a real camaraderie amongst the soldiers and competitors. They want to win, but not at the expense of someone else. They want to win because of their great performance."

The Best Warrior Competition is a grueling competition between the best Oregon Army National Guard soldiers, consisting of seven different events ranging from land navigation to combatives, to win the prestigious honor of Oregon Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.

"Everything that is done here this weekend is a soldier skill," said Master Sgt. Manuel Martinez, Competitive Sports Coordinator from Joint Force Headquarters, Salem, Ore. "We are just honing that blade and sharpening those skills."

Sgt. Donald Snyder, from Recruiting and Retention Command, LaGrande, Ore., winner of last year's Soldier of the Year and recently promoted, said "I am going up against a lot of motivated people who want to win, and this year's competition is more physically demanding."

"I have a lot of respect for these soldiers because for the most part they are traditional guardsmen who have to study on their own time," said 1st Sgt. Seven Richmond, from 249 Regional Training Institute, Monmouth, Ore. "It just shows a lot of dedication."

Winners of the Best Warrior Challenge will compete in the regional Soldier and NCO of the Year in Alaska, early June.

The Adjutant General's Match, an annual marksmanship match of the best shooters in the Oregon National Guard, is comprised of both individual and team matches. Competitors get to use a variety of weapons ranging from an M9 pistol to an M-240B machine gun at different ranges to test their shooting abilities.

"It's pretty awesome because I am getting paid to shoot," said Sgt. John McCully with Charlie Company, 7th Battalion 158 Aviation, Salem, Ore., "There is a lot of knowledge here and I have learned many techniques that I can bring back with me to my unit."

The Combatives tournament, another event in the challenge, is a hand to hand combat competition with four different weight classes for soldiers to fight in ranging from Lightweight to Welterweight.

"Combatives is as much a part of warrior training as shooting your weapon," said Sgt. 1st Class Dave Hagen, State Combatives Instructor with 249 Regional Training Institute, Monmouth, Ore. "Shooting a weapon is a distance range and shooting a pistol is at close range. Ultimately the potential of getting into a hand to hand combat is fairly great. Most soldiers have never been punched in the face before and the Army Combative System gives them the ability to say that I am confident in what I have been taught to be able to aggress the enemy."

The winners for the combative tournament will represent Oregon in the National Combatives tournament at Fort Benning, Ga., next year.

Newest to the Army were the RSP soldiers competing in the Squad Challenge. The RSP is designed to train soldiers before going to basic training, so the competition contained events ranging from Drill and Ceremony, to running the obstacle course and to help build Army core values.

"When soldiers compete, they can't help but become a better soldier in the end," said Conley.

The winners for the Oregon Soldier and NCO of the Year were Sgt. Jared Burkham and Sgt. Robert Krause, respectively.

Winners for TAG Match were: Senior Master Sgt. Mike Shepherd for the individual section. Winner and runner up for open class were Tech Sgt. Jeffrey Jones and Tech Sgt. Daniel Silva, and for novice were: Cpl. Daryl Hager and Spc. Lee Sweet.

For teams, the winners were: the Kingsley Eagles with team captain Senior Master Sgt. Mike Shepherd and shooters, Tech Sgt. Jeffrey Jones, Staff Sgt. Buck Dugger, and Senior Airman Daniel Gardner. Runner up for teams were: the Kingsley Phantoms with the team captain Tech Sgt. Daniel Silva and shooters Tech Sgt. Michael Krouse, Master Sgt. Michael Loomis, and Tech Sgt. Isaac Nunn.

The team challenge cup winner was the Kingsley Phantoms.

The winner of the Brent McTaggert Unit Achievement award was 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field.

For combatives, the winner of the Lightweight class was Sgt Trevor Wesley, Cruiserweight was Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Grajo, Middleweight was Staff Sgt. Jeremy Caver, and Welterweight was Pfc Adam Jordan.

The RSP Squad Challenge winners were squad Southern Comfort consisting of Pfc. Livingston, Pfc. Bartlett, Pfc. Greer, Pvt Rahimian, and Pvt Huna.