Sgt. Joshua Smith and Spc. Collin George were named winners of the 2019 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, in a ceremony at the Iron Mike Conference Center, June 28.
They were selected from more than 60 U.S. Army Reserve NCOs and Soldiers representing 29 geographic and functional commands from around the world.
A native of northern Wisconsin, Smith is a cavalry scout and a drill sergeant candidate with Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 334th Infantry Regiment, 95th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), 108th Training Command . His civilian occupation is working as a train conductor at Canadian Pacific Railway in Wisconsin.
George, is a military policeman with 102nd Military Police Company, 327th Military Police Battalion, 300th Military Police Brigade, 200th Military Police Command in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. A native of Greendale, Wisconsin, he is a part-time supervisor at UPS.
Smith owes his success to a single-focus approach that he shared with others who want to compete.
“Trust your training,” Smith said. “Every event counts even if you think you’re out. Keep pushing, keep pushing hard and push through it. Do the best you can. Stay focused and don’t worry about the other competitors. Concentrate on your own score and yourself.”
Smith thanked a host of supporters from his wife, Savannah, to coworkers, and fellow Soldiers to leaders in his unit.
George was inspired to compete by Sgt. 1st Class Landon Nordby, the 2014 U.S. Army Reserve NCO of the Year.
“We deployed together in 2017 and he single-handedly inspired me to compete,” George said. “At an early age, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. So joining the Army, doing competitions and seeing what I’m actually capable of — it really pays to be confident.”
Although he started the competition with that confidence, he began to wonder if that confidence was going to last.
“They (the other warriors) put up a good fight,” George said. “They were incredible. There were a lot of great Soldiers out here and they pushed me further and further.”
This year’s warriors from America’s Army Reserve had military occupations such as combat medics and musicians. Civilian careers ranged from law enforcement officers to wildland firefighters.
The Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, held June 23 through 28 at Fort Bragg, is designed to demonstrate the warfighting skills of the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve in the history of the nation.
The warriors were tested in a myriad of physical and mental challenges including firing multiple weapon systems, completing land navigation, performing the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge skills and multiple mystery events.
During the awards luncheon, guest speaker retired Command Sgt. Maj. Scott C. Schroeder spoke of how the warriors should inspire others to not only excel as Soldiers, but also utilize competitions like this to inspire others in the ranks. Schroeder, who retired as the U.S. Army Forces Command command sergeant major in 2017, used an iceberg as an analogy.
“The 61 Soldiers who came out here to compete are the part of the iceberg that stands above the line of water,” Schroeder said. “What is really truly inspiring, is these 61 Soldiers represent the 200,000 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers — that’s the rest of the iceberg. There are many Soldiers who have been affected by this competition just to get to this point. The winners will be the tip of that iceberg. This is a test of how we train and the competition drives that test.”
Smith and George will represent the U.S. Army Reserve to compete against winners from major Army commands and the National Guard at the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition in October at Fort A.P. Hill,
Virginia.