By Jelia Hepner/Paraglide

The best of the best have competed and the results are in. Staff Sergeant Ifegwu S. Ifegwu, Fort Drum, New York, and Pfc. Caden Emmons, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, earned the best NCO and Soldier honors, respectively, in the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Warrior Competition.

Both were recognized in front of the corps headquarters, June 29 following a week-long of intense testing, tasks and drills in temperatures sometime soaring above 98 degrees.

“They have successfully proven their medal and demonstrated committment to the Army values,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Albertson, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg command sergeant major. “These extraordinary Soldiers embodied the Warrior Ethos in all aspects and represented the XVIII Airborne Corps and the United States Army as the force of the future.”

Emmons expressed his gratitude for competing and winning the prestigious honor.

“I feel very honored that I was able to participate in this competition and win,” said Emmons. “At the beginning, I was not sure if I was going to win. Many of the competitors were high speed, but after the board, I grew more confident in myself.”

With a major competition under his belt, Emmons, who joined the military just over a year ago, is a heavy equipment operator assigned to the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

He said that during the competition, he ran into some snags when it came to the warrior tasks and battle drills.

“I did run into some difficulty in those areas, but I learned a lot and improved myself throughout this competition,” Emmons said. “Back home we trained in these areas. I had great mentors, so I was prepared.”

Emmons’ mother drove from Arizona to attend the ceremony to support her son – whether he won or lost.

“He did it, he embraced it and didn’t give up,” said Kristen Emmons, an Army veteran. “I am very proud of him. I didn’t know if he would win or not, but I came to support him anyway.”

Emmons and Ifegwu were presented with multiple awards including Army Commendation medals, monetary prizes, certificates, coins and a gift bag.

These two XVIII Abn. Corps Best Warriors will now vie for Forces Command honors with the hopes of moving on to the Army level.