Staff Sgt. Drew Ming wins with an effective arm bar during the final match in the Noncomissioned Officer of the Year combatives tournament over Staff Sgt. Timothy Russell.
(Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)
By Rachel Knight
CAMP CROWDER, Mo. - Staff Sgt. Drew Ming and Spc. Noah Cutshall will be representing the Missouri National Guard as best warriors after winning the state-level competition this week.
Seven noncommissioned officers and six Soldiers competed to be named the best in the Missouri National Guard. They were tested on both mental and physical fitness levels over a five-day period.
"The best of each brigade we have in the state is here," said State Command Sgt. Major Jim Schulte, during the last-day ceremony. "There is not a loser in the room."
Events included the Army Physical Fitness Test, Command Sergeants Major board, written examination on general military knowledge, 12-mile road march, Army Warrior Tasks, Combat Water Survival, weapon qualification on both the M-9 pistol and the M-16 rifle, a 500 word essay, day and night land navigation, confidence course and combatives.
"This competition is important for Missouri National Guardsmen because it encourages Soldiers to have high standards for themselves and to have an important goal to achieve," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Keil, who competed for the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. "It also identifies key leaders and potential key leaders for the Missouri Guard."
Keil, of Springfield, represented the 35th Engineer Brigade in the competition.
The brand-new Air Assault-qualified confidence course at Camp Crowder was christened during the competition.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Burns, with the 140th Regional Training Institute, said the course was just completed a little over a week ago and this is the first time the course has been used.
Competition was tough throughout the contest. In the noncommissioned officer competition, the leader board changed every day with every new event.
"The best part is, nobody ever quit," said Schulte.
Ming, of Fair Grove, topped the leader board in the Army Physical Fitness Test and combatives, while tying for first in the 12-mile road march, combat water survival training, day and night land navigation, and the confidence course.
He said the competition was "pretty intense." Ming is from the 1129th Forward Support Company in Marshall and was competing for the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
"It's been a while since our area and brigade had someone go this far," Ming said.
Ming will work on his weak areas and do a lot of road marching to prepare himself for the regional competition in Salina, Kan., in April. His alternate is Staff Sgt. Timothy Russell, of Goodman. He represented the 140th Regional Training Institute at Fort Leonard Wood in the competition.
In the Soldier-side of the competition, Spc. Noah Cutshall, of St. Louis, prevailed after leading the combatives and 500-word essay portion of the competition. He also tied for first in the road march, combat water survival, day and night land navigation, and confidence course.
"You have to give it all you got," said Cutshall. "Don't hold back. Get ready for pain because you will have to push through it."
Cutshall is with the 3175th Chemical Company at Jefferson Barracks and was representing 70th Troop Command during the competition.
His alternate is Spc. Brian Wood, of El Dorado Springs. Wood is a member of Company C of the 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion at Whiteman Air Force Base and represented the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade in the competition.
The Best Warrior competition has grown every year in intensity and will really test the competitors' skill levels.
According to Schulte, when the competition started it was only a command sergeant majors board. Now it is more focused on the Soldier and the warrior task.
"The warrior spirit is alive and well," Schulte said. "Warriors are never satisfied. They always sit back and say, 'I could have done that better. How could I have done that better?'"
Though several Soldiers battled minor injuries that hindered their performance, Schulte said they put everything they had into the competition and finished with pride.
"The Best Warrior competition is a good experience for all Soldiers and I knew if I competed, I would grow as a Soldier and a leader," said Spc. Ronnie Wilson, who competed for Soldier of the Year. Wilson, of Everton, represented the 1107th Theatre Aviation Support and Maintenance Group in Springfield.
Schulte had high praise for all the competitors.
"You guys are awesome," said Schulte. "I would serve anywhere, anytime with you."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites:
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Staff Sgt. Drew Ming low crawls under wires in the timed confidence course event of the Missouri National Guard's Best Warrior Competition. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)
Spc. Noah Cutshall preps to land after completing one of the nine obstacles at Camp Crowder's new Air-Assault qualified confidence course. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)