U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence senior leaders announced the winners of the 2020 Best Warrior Competition during a ceremony today on Gammon Field.
MSCoE’s 2020 Best Warriors are:
— Officer of the Year Capt. Andrew Friesen, 3rd Chemical Brigade
— Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. Erik Rostamo, 14th Military Police Brigade
— NCO of the Year Staff Sgt. Jonathan Burrill, MSCoE Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy
— Joint Service NCO of the Year Marine Sgt. Trent Hall, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment
— Soldier of the Year Spc. Joseph Murrell, 399th Army Band
Each of the winners were presented an Army Commendation Medal by Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood.
Speaking at the ceremony, Breckinridge said one of his passions is leader development and one of the core components of becoming a leader is “straight up, tough competition – to win, because winning matters.”
He called this year’s event “tough and grueling.”
Each of the competitors endured three straight days of mental and physical challenges, to include marksmanship with multiple weapons systems, first aid, day and night land navigation, a one-kilometer swim, a hand-written essay and an examination.
The desire to lead by example is what drove Friesen, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment Company E commander, throughout the competition.
“These are the things I expect from my Soldiers – what I want them to be able to excel at,” he said. “I should be able to complete the same things because I won’t ask them to do anything that I can’t do and excel at myself. That was the driving force for me to compete.”
Rostamo said he’s always trying to push himself to become better.
“Every leader, every Soldier, can benefit from learning to embrace challenges as opportunities,” he said. “You may succeed, you may fail, but just keep going – keep getting back up on your feet and moving forward.”
For Hall, an MP instructor who was participating in his first joint-service competition, the camaraderie he experienced motivated him to “keep pushing.”
“Nobody wanted anyone to fail,” he said. “Everybody was cheering each other on to finish. It’s not easy, but you have to have that mentality that ‘I will complete this. I will finish.’”
Friesen was the first winner of the officer category – new this year – and Breckinridge called the opportunity for junior officers to compete a huge accomplishment for MSCoE.
“Regardless of where you are working, you need leader development just as much,” Breckinridge said.
Lastly, Breckinridge thanked the participants as well as everyone who helped make the competition happen this year.
“You did a phenomenal job, and we can’t thank you enough,” he said.
More photos from the competition are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortleonardwood/albums/72157714921201273.