Challenge and Triumph

08/25/2018  |  By 1st Lt. Jonathon Geer Alpha Company, 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division (IET)
The Griffon
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Fort Custer Training Center, Mich. – It has been said that with great challenge comes great triumph, and for U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of the 3-330th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division, (Initial Entry Training), these words have never resonated truer.

As part of the 3-330th Infantry Regiment’s June Battle Assembly and Field Training Exercise, Soldiers had the opportunity to compete in the Battalion’s annual Best Warrior Competition. Participants in the event vied for a chance to go on and represent the Battalion in the Division Best Warrior Competition (BWC) being held in March of 2019.

In order to identify the Battalion’s toughest hero, each Company was asked to select their finest enlisted, noncommissioned officer, and drill sergeant to compete. Overall, 14 Soldiers answered the call to duty and stepped up to face the challenge in this year’s event.

In a battle of tenacity, grit and mental fortitude, the Battalion BWC activities spanned the course of two days and required every ounce of gall each participant could muster. The grueling two-day event began on Friday, June 8 and finished late in the evening the following day.

Day one consisted of a competitive individual weapons qualification, an M9 engage and shoot event, an evaluate a casualty practical exam, and a military knowledge assessment written test.

Day two continued the grueling pace with the Army Physical Fitness Test, followed by an M203 qualification event. The day was capped off by a five-mile road march immediately followed by an appearance board that tested the mental tenacity of the competitors.

On the final day, Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Coe finalized the points and crowned the champions.

Also on site for the weekend’s events were the division commanding general and command sergeant major, Brig. Gen. Miles Davis and Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Coyle. Both division leaders provided valuable insight and guidance, as well as a healthy dose of inspiration not only the competitors, but the unit as a whole.

Additionally, the two leaders highlighted the weekend by demonstrating what it means to lead by example, joining the competitors in the road march.

“It’s really motivating to see your Division Commander and Command Sergeant Major grinding it out on the course like that,” said Sgt. Travis Johnson, an Alpha Company competitor who serves as a drill sergeant candidate. “It motivates me to push myself and be the best I can be,” continued the Adrian, Michigan, native when asked how it felt having that kind of command presence out traversing the trail with them.

Other competitors seemed to concur and the takeaway attitude was one of great enthusiasm and vigor, with the Command Team handing out high fives and offering words of encouragement with every stride.

“It is important that we, as Soldiers, recognize it’s all about making ourselves the best we can be,” said Davis after completing the road march with the competitors. “You have to ask yourself, what can I do to make myself better? And when you do everything you can to make yourself better, that’s what makes our units better, and that in turn, makes our Army Reserve better.”

Coyle also chimed in with some additional words of reassurance. “It is important that our Soldiers recognize that we want to be out here with them,” stated the division command sergeant major. “We want them to know that it is about standards and coming together as a team. We are the best division in the Army Reserve and it is a privilege to participate in an event that keeps us moving in that direction.”

In all, 25 Reserve Soldiers tackled the ruck march event, completing the course well under the Army’s standard allotted time for weight and distance.

Finishing the ruck in first place, with a time just over 58 minutes, was Spc. Joesph Ponitz, a drill sergeant from Bravo Company 3-330th. The Ostego, Michigan, native was greeted with high praise from fellow company members and command teams as he crossed the finish line. Ponitz grabbed some water and returned to the finish line, contributing to an atmosphere full of energy that greeted the rest of the competitors.

The final day brought Spc. Ronald Gallo, a Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania native and drill sergeant candidate with Bravo Company; Sgt. Colby Schaffer, a Urbana, Illinois, native and a drill sergeant with Golf Company; and Sgt. Phillip Goodrich, a Athens, Michigan, native  and drill sergeant with Foxtrot Company, all to the podium, each winning a spot, in their respective categories, to go forward and represent their battalion in the Brigade BWC. Goodrich was also recognized, and crowned as the overall competition winner, earning himself both a Division and Battalion command coin.

As the formation concluded, Lt. Col. Jim Allen, an East Lansing, Michigan native  and the 3-330th Infantry Regiment battalion commander, offered a final few sage words.

“You need to remember, you are who the U.S. Army relies on today to keep our Nation, safe, sound and secure, and you have the unique responsibility of training America’s sons and daughters to rise up and become the next generation of warfighters.”

All in all, every member of the 3-330th Infantry Regiment walked away feeling reinvigorated as the weekend proved to be another training success. And as far as the saying goes, a great triumph truly does follow a great challenge... especially if you are a 3-330th Infantry Regiment Best Warrior Competitor. 

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