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Ten Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota gathered at the Marseilles Training Center, Marseilles, Illinois, for the Region IV Best Warrior Competition, Aug. 20-23.
During the four-day event, competitors completed 13 events to fight for the title of Soldier of the Year (SOTY) and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year (NCOY) in Region IV, and the chance to compete at the national level.
Taking top honors as the Region IV Soldier of the Year was Spc. Jakob Ellingson, from the 114th Transportation Company, Minnesota Army National Guard. Region IV’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year was Staff Sgt. Anthony Miller, of Glen Carbon, Illinois, from Illinois Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, in Litchfield. Both Soldiers plan to compete at the national level competition, U.S. Army Best Warrior.
“The competition was very close among the NCOs. Events like this offer some of the best training opportunities,” said Miller. “It was great getting to know the other participants and competing with them this weekend.”
The U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition brings together a total of 22 competitors for the titles of U.S. Army Soldier of the Year and U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. The competition, which began in 2001, is run by the Sergeant Major of the Army. Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Grinston, the Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army, will oversee this year’s competition.
The Region IV competition brings together competitors from across the Midwest. Each SOTY and NCOY competed in their respective brigade and state level competition to reach the regional competition. Soldiers began the Region IV competition with a written test and appearance board, testing the knowledge of the competitors. During the board appearance, competitors were judged not only on their knowledge, but also military bearing and attention to detail of their dress uniform.
Other events of the competition included the Army Combat Fitness Test, Call for Indirect Fire, Land Navigation and shooting events including the M9 (pistol) and M4 (rifle) qualification, and finally the road march.
Illinois Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Behary hosted the Region IV BWC, and during the closing ceremony and awards presentation, talked about the dedication of the competitors and their ability to overcome difficulties in the COVID-19 environment of this year’s competition.
“Each of you worked very hard to get here, and overcame the uncertainty of 2020,” said Behary. “All the competitors came here and put forth impressive performances. This demonstrates your dedication as Soldiers.”