Story by SSG Chad Menegay on 03/07/2019Sgt. Whitney Schalk, a heavy vehicle driver with the 1483rd Transportation Company out of Walbridge, Ohio, earned the title of Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Spc. Adam Pinkerton, an infantryman with Company D, 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment out of Sandusky, Ohio, was named Soldier of the Year during the 2019 Ohio Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Sherman Joint Training Center.
"While the purpose of the Best Warrior Competition may be to determine who the best Soldier and best NCO in the state are, there is also camaraderie developed and to have the MSCs (major subordinate commands) kind of get to know each other and to have fun," said Sgt. Major Craig Murray, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) operations sergeant major.
Junior NCOs from across the 37th IBCT hosted and planned this year's competition. "It's designed by junior NCOs and Soldiers for junior NCOs and Soldiers," Murray said.
The competition featured the following events: weapons stress shoot, land navigation course, personal appearance board, physical fitness test and various Army warrior tasks, which are common skills that all Soldiers train on like first aid, voice and radio communications, and individual movement techniques during combat scenarios.
"Some of the more physically demanding events that lead into other physically demanding challenges were especially difficult, such as pulling a dummy on a SKED (a sled/skid plastic stretcher that is moved by dragging it across the ground), then going to do a weapons qualification," Pinkerton said. "You get exhausted after that and really have to focus on the task at hand."
Schalk, of Defiance, Ohio and Pinkerton, of Tallmadge, Ohio, competed against about 20 other Soldiers representing every Ohio Army National Guard major subordinate command across the state.
"I want Soldiers to come away with camaraderie," Murray said. "I want them to come home tired and feel like they did something to be proud of. It's easy to get pigeonholed into your own company. The BWC allows Soldiers to see other units in the state, every MOS (military occupational specialty), every MSC, every region of the state, and just talking to them, sharing some experiences and having fun."
In addition to shared experiences from across the state, the 2019 OHARNG BWC went international for the first time in its history as two members of the Hungarian Defence Forces competed as part of an Ohio National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) exchange, with HDF Master Sgt. Istvn Fss placing first in the shooting portion of the competition. Ohio and Hungary have been paired since 1993 through the Department of Defense SPP, which aims to foster civil-military relationships between U.S. National Guard states and militaries from nearly 80 nations around the world.
The next step for the BWC winners is the Army National Guard Region IV Best Warrior Competition May 7-10 at Fort Custer Training Center near Augusta, Michigan. There, state winners (or alternates/runners-up, if winners cannot compete for whatever reason) from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin will vie for recognition as the best, most competent National Guard Soldiers in the Midwest.