From Best Warrior Competition to Air Assault

By Sgt. Jeffery Harris, 98th Training Division Public Affairs NCO

Fort Benning, Georgia – Air Assault! Ten days of eventful training, a 12-mile ruck march, combat assaults, sling-load operations and rappelling. That was all no problem for the 98th Training Division (IET) Noncommissioned Officer and Drill Sergeant of the Year. Immediately after being announced the 2022 98th Training Division (IET) Best Warrior Competition winners, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Parler, the 98th Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and Staff Sgt. Loren Pope, the 98th Drill Sergeant of the Year, volunteered to go to Air Assault School. 

During Air Assault School, Soldiers are trained on the missions performed by rotary wing aircraft, aircraft safety, aero-medical evacuation procedures, pathfinder operations, principles and techniques of combat assaults, rappelling techniques, and sling-load operations. The 98th NCO and Drill Sergeant of the Year both performed these missions and earned the U.S. Army Air Assault Badge.

Since Parler and Pope won the Division Best Warrior Competition on Jan. 31, and reported to Air Assault School on Feb. 22, that gave them less than a month to train and prepare for the intense school. However, they were well equipped for the task. Air Assault training is challenging, with early wake-up calls, rigorous inspections, and high expectations of performance, but the benefits of being Air Assault qualified, far outweigh the trials that they encountered. Parler and Pope leave Air Assault School with a skillset that will benefit them no matter where they go. Their pride and sense of accomplishment are nothing short of well deserved.

98th Training Division Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Kaim commended both the Iroquois Warrior’s newest Air Assault School graduates during the award ceremony on March 4, 2022 at the Army National Guard Warrior Training Center. 

Parler and Pope have made it clear to their leadership and peers that they do not plan to stop at this accomplishment. These Soldiers are already preparing to represent the Division at the next level. As the Division NCO of the Year, Parler will compete in the 108th Training Command Best Warrior Competition in April 2022 at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, while Pope will represent the Division at the CIMT/TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition September 2022.

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