The 2021 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition drew nearly 80 soldiers to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and at the end of the 10-day contest, it was Staff Sgt. Jonathan Chacon and Spc. Nicholas Kyne who emerged victorious.
Chacon, 37, who is assigned to the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), won NCO of the year, while Kyne, 25, who is assigned to 416th Theater Engineer Command, won Soldier of the Year and was also a member of the newly-incorporated Best Squad, also from the 416th Theater Engineer Command.
Chacon, who has served for 13 years, competed in his first Best Warrior Competition in 2012 after being nominated by his NCOIC at the time. He was initially reluctant, but once the competition began, he was hooked.
“I love competing, and the experience was great,” he said. “You meet all kinds of interesting people, and win or lose you take home the experience, so it’s a good thing.”
The Best Warrior Competition is held annually and draws the Army Reserve’s best soldiers and NCOs, who are judged on their adaptability and drive to overcome in challenging situations.
Seventy-nine soldiers arrived at Fort McCoy in May. Over the next 10 days, soldiers competed in land navigation, an obstacle course, the Army Combat Fitness Test, water safety, and pistol and rifle qualification. These events are designed to foster competition in the ranks and test the technical and tactical expertise of all competitors.
Each of the competitors had to first win at their respective unit echelons of command, held at company, battalion, division, or the command level. Depending upon the organization to which a competitor belongs, this may have been the third, or even forth, competition.
Chacon said unlike his first time competing, he was excited about the challenge of going against other solders and NCOs who wanted to win as badly as he did. That meant working to enhance his land navigation skills, making sure he was proficient on the range, and keeping in shape.
Kyne, who has been in the Army Reserve for three years, holds down two jobs and attends college full time in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, when he’s not training. Kyne said before the competition, his goal was to go to Air Assault Airborne school, but he was having difficulty getting a slot.
“I was having a hard time getting a school,” he said. “I was talking with team leaders and squad leaders, who all said the only way to get into any kind of school was to compete and win the company Best Warrior Competition.”
He competed and won on three levels before advancing to the next level, Kyne said. To prepare for the competition, he added more PT to his routine, which included cardio in the morning and weight training in the evenings, ruck training twice a week, and training at the shooting range.
Sgt. 1st Class John Freese, who serves in the public affairs office for the 88th Readiness Division, watched the competition and called this year’s event one of the best he’d ever witnessed.
“There are countless things that can go wrong, and countless ways for people to get hurt. This was a very well run, well managed event, and despite that people were ascending and walking atop 20-foot-high obstacles, firing live rounds on multiple ranges with various weapon types, and jumping from helicopters, there were no serious issues,” Freese said.
Unlike most active-duty training leading up to the Best Warrior Competition, Army reservists who work in the private sector train on their own time to prepare for the competition.
In the end, it was their determination, competitiveness, skill, and preparation that drove Chacon and Kyne to earn top honors in the 2021 Best Warrior Competition. Chacon and Kyne will compete against active-duty soldiers in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition that will be held in October.
“I am not leaving anything to chance,” Chacon said. “I am going to continually push myself, and I am going to do everything I can to bring home that victory.”Read comments