Army Reserve Best Warrior Competitors shine despite rain, cold

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Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller, a drill sergeant with the 108th Training Command (IET) and the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, stands with the USAR Interim Command Sgt. Maj. James P. Wills at the awards banquet May 6. The 2016 USAR BWC held May 2-4 at Fort Bragg, N.C., determined the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier to represent the U.S. Army Reserve in the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition later this year at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darryl Montgomery (Released)

Fort Bragg, N.C. — Dark gray clouds covered the sky with sporadic bursts of pouring rain. Artillery shells echoed in the not-so-far-off distance accompanied with an earthquake-like rumble and shake. From head to toe, clothing and personal equipment was drenched and with each gust of wind and drop of rain, it seemed as though the day would never end.

With about six hours sleep over a 48-hour period, the third and final day of competition came to a close for the group of 32 remaining Warriors at the 2016 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4.

Throughout the three-day competition that began with 39 contenders, each faced a series of physically and mentally demanding Warrior skills that began before dawn and ended after dusk.

It was a week of non-stop mental and physical challenges with cold and rainy weather but the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller, 108th Training Command (IET), and Soldier of the Year Spc. Michael Orozco, 416th Theater Engineer Command, proved to be the most tactically and technically proficient Warriors at their levels and will move on to compete at the Department of Defense Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, later this year.

The runners up for the top spots are Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jones, Army Reserve Career Division, and Spc. Carlo Deldonno, 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support).

“An event like this is critical for soldiers to build self confidence in their skills and abilities,” said Interim U.S. Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. James P. Wills. “It builds organizational readiness to be able to go out into the environment (and) perform, whether that’s on the battle field or otherwise.”

Cadre review the events schedule at the night M4 carbine qualification range during the 2016 U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christina M. Dion / Released

Each command sent their best, and the caliber of Soldier was evident after each event.

Moeller had the highest Army Physical Fitness Test score on the extended scale. Jones earned expert marksman with 36 hits on the M4 carbine qualification range.

For the 108th Training Command (IET), Moeller is their first U.S. Army Reserve-level NCO of the Year. Command Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Riti, the 108th Training command (IET) command sergeant major said his competitors were well rounded, trained and supported.

There can only be two top Warriors to go to the next level, but all of the competitors took on the challenge and did their best.

“In my mind every soldier is a winner,” said Wills. “I like to see the fact that soldiers have the ability to take that first step.”

Being at the company or battalion level and accepting the challenge to at least try is key, he added. Soldiers don’t always know their individual skill level until they challenge themselves.

“Once they do and they start to train up for these events, they find out that they are a little better off than they give themselves credit for. It’s important that the Soldiers take the self-initiative to get out there. Each year can be used as a year to build upon so nobody is expecting them to come in and be a first-year winner, but they can come in and build upon that as years pass.”

A 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior competitor fires downrange at the 50-meter pop up target while pyrotechnics light up the night sky during the M4 carbine qualification portion of the competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christina M. Dion / Released

Army Reserve drill sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller, representing the 108th Training Command (IET), leads the pack during the 2-mile run on the first day of competition at the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C. May 3. U.S. Army photo Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/released

Spc. Kayla Bundy, representing 108th Training Command (IET), competes in the NBC evaluation lane at the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 5. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darryl L. Montgomery) (Released)

A competitor heads toward the next event after finishing a 10-kilometer foot march at the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4, 2016. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tynisha L. Daniel

Spc. Kayla Bundy, a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic representing the 108th Training Command (IET) navigates the Weaver at the Air Assault Obstacle Course at the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C. May 4. U.S. Army photo by William K. Gillespie / Released

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