3BCT Soldier earns Army’s 2017 Best Warrior title

| October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

Spc. Hazen Ham, second from left, and Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy are congratulated by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and Gen. James C. McConville, the Army’s vice chief of staff, during an award ceremony for Soldier and NCO of the Year at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2017. Both Soldiers won the Best Warrior Competition, which was held Oct. 1-6 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. (U.S. Army photo by Sean Kimmons)

Sean Kimmons
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The Army now has two more role models for all Soldiers to follow. After six days of demanding events at the Best Warrior Competition last week, a specialist and staff sergeant stood out among this year’s highly-skilled competitors.

Spc. Hazen Ham, an infantryman with 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy, who represented the Army Training and Doctrine Command, were officially named the Army’s Soldier and NCO of the Year, respectively, during an awards luncheon Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Finishing third in the NCO of the year competition was another 25th ID 3BCT Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Garcia, a platoon sergeant.

“The group of Soldiers here is one of the finest I’ve ever trained and worked with,” said Ham, 21. “It was a pleasure to see how they performed and, honestly, I didn’t think I had won because they are that good.”

Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy, right, and Spc. Hazen Ham, second from right, shake hands with attendees at an award ceremony for Soldier and NCO of the Year at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2017. Both Soldiers won the Best Warrior Competition, which was held Oct. 1-6 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sean Kimmons)

Best of best
This year’s Best Warrior had 22 competitors who excelled in other competitions at 11 major commands before they moved on to the Army-level contest. There, they faced long days of grueling tasks at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, that mentally and physically challenged them.

Held annually since 2002, Best Warrior tests Soldiers on their aptitude through physical fitness assessments, written exams, urban warfare simulations and other warrior tasks and battle drills. Selection boards in front of some of the Army’s most senior enlisted leaders, including Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, are also part of it.

Organizers purposely left Soldiers in the dark throughout the competition to better identify the eventual winners.

“Like a real fight”
The most challenging part for Ham, of Hillsborough, North Carolina, was the cumulative physical and mental stress he and others endured over the week.

“Every day you were just more tired, more fatigued,” he said. “But it was also very realistic. That’s the way it is in the real fight.”

All of the events, many of which were complex scenarios seen in combat, boiled down to one thing — readiness, one of the Army’s top priorities.

“That’s the whole purpose of this competition,” Ham said. “It’s some of the most functional, realistic training I’ve ever experienced in my Army career. I’ll be able to take it back and re-enact parts of it and use that for Soldiers underneath me and beside me. It’ll greatly benefit the force.”

“The competition is designed to be very, very diverse,” Dailey said. “From the time they get off the bus, they’re being evaluated and some things they have no idea they are being evaluated on. What we’re trying to do is actually find the best Soldier.”

The uncertainty of not knowing what would occur during the events gave McCarthy — an instructor at the Sapper Leader Course on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri — a taste of what he trains his students on.

“Like what I tell Sapper students all the time,” said McCarthy, 27, of Belgrade Lakes, Maine, “if you treat it like it’s real, you will be successful.”

Spc. Hazen Ham, assigned to U.S. Army-Pacific, investigates the wreckage of a simulated Improvised Explosive Device detonation as part of the Best Warrior Competition (BWC) on Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Oct. 4, 2017. The BWC is an annual week-long event that will test 22 Soldiers from 11 major commands on their physical and mental capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric Cerami)

His leadership skills were also tested under pressure. “They really evaluated you on your ability to adapt as a leader and your ability to thrive in chaos,” he said.
While all the competitors had already won at their respective commands, Dailey expected each of them to continue giving it their all for Best Warrior.

“This is a competition,” Dailey said. “This isn’t 6th grade soccer where we’re all going to get ice cream at the end of it. This is big boy, big girl rules.”

Still, he believed those who competed are the Army’s finest even if they didn’t go home with a trophy.

“There are 1.18 million Soldiers in the Army and only 22 of them get to compete,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work and effort. They are all superhero kids. Any one of these kids on any given day probably could have done it, too.”

Soldier of the Year:
1. Spc. Hazen Ham, 3BCT, 25 ID, U.S. Army-Pacific
2. Spc. Grant Reimers, Army National Guard
3. Pfc. Rowan Lovell, U.S. Army Special Operations Command

NCO of the Year:
1. Staff Sgt. Ryan McCarthy, Army Training and Doctrine Command
2. Sgt. 1st Class Brenden Shannon, Army Forces Command
3. Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Garcia, Platoon NCO, 3BCT, 25ID, U.S. Army-Pacific





Tags: , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *