Why I Chose to Compete

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Cpl. Frank Temple, 104th Infantry Division, served during World War II, later becoming the grandfather of Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Temple, 104th Training Division (Leader Training) Best Warrior competitor.

FORT KNOX, Kentucky — It was day three of 104th Training Division’s Best Warrior Competition at Ft. Knox and I was sitting in a chair, tired, nervous, and dehydrated from putting 42 miles under me in two and a half days; it was the middle of my board appearance and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Pierce asked me the following question: “Sgt. 1st Class Temple, why should we choose you as the face of the 104th Training Division, and to represent us as the (non-commissioned officer) of the year at the 108th Training Command’s Best Warrior Competition?” The following is a longer version of the answer I provided.

First, as a leader within the Army and a senior drill sergeant in C Company, 2nd Battalion, 317th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 104th Training Division, it is important for me to lead from the front. There comes a time of year when our brigade and battalion start asking for volunteers for the BWC and it appears that not many Soldiers want to go through this type of competition. This year I said “why not.”

One of the lines of the Drill Sergeant Creed states: “I will not require any Soldier to attempt any task I would not do myself.” My hope and desire is that the Soldiers and drill sergeants whom I am in charge of will see their senior drill sergeant leading from the front. They will see me going through physically and mentally tough scenarios, suffering with them, and that will motivate them to do better, dig deeper, and push themselves to be better and improve the company and Army as a whole.

The second reason why I went through this competition was to simply get out of the “barracks’’ and do some training. We have been in a COVID-19 environment for over a year now and we, as an Army, have been operating in that environment mainly in a virtual manner. As I stated to the board members sitting in front of me, virtual training is okay and checks the box; however, virtual training cannot replicate the feeling of looking over the edge of a repel tower with a full ruck on wondering if you are going to make it to the ground alive. Virtual training cannot replicate the mental fortitude to continue to push your body after you have rucked miles upon miles and now have to complete the Army Combat Water Survival Test, or going from the Army Combat Fitness Test site to the Fit-To-Win, and then on to the confidence course all before lunch. This competition was a completion, yet it was also a time to figure out where your deficiencies lay in completing the tasks that you are supposed to be proficient in so you can teach them to recruits and cadets.

Decorations and unit patch worn by Cpl. Frank Temple, 104th Infantry Division, during World War II are displayed over the Blue Star Flag displayed by his family. Cpl. Temple is the grandfather of Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Temple, 104th Training Division (Leader Training) Best Warrior competitor.

One of the training scenarios that stood out to me across the 104th and 108th competitions was the first aid simulator we completed at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. This simulator truly tested your knowledge of what we are taught and bridged the gap that lies between the classroom environment and the real-world. We were tired and exhausted when we entered this training simulator. It was dark and loud with machine gun fire and mortars going off in the background. In the midst of all of this, you look up and see through the mist and fog, a Soldier lying there with a severed leg and blood pouring from the wound. The question becomes, can you save them? Do you know the proper steps in order to treat the casualty? We know this stuff, it’s basic first aid right? This intense scenario truly brought to light the gaps between classroom and practical knowledge; both are needed, yet practical scenarios are just as important as classroom instruction.

The third reason for my answer to Command Sgt. Maj. Pierce was because the 104th competition was personal for me. When my battalion came out from under the 98th Training Division and went under the 104th Training Division in 2017, I was looking at the Timberwolf patch and thought that it looked familiar, however, I could not place it right away. Upon some research and talking with family, I realized that my grandfather, Cpl. Frank Temple, was assigned to the 104th Infantry Division in World War II. Being here, representing the 104th Timberwolves allowed me to bring honor to those who have gone before me wearing the patch of the Timberwolves.

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