Virginia NCO & Maryland Soldier named best warriors in the region

Spc. Gerald Villamar, of the Maryland National Guard, and Sgt. Jake Moyer, of the Virginia National Guard, are announced as the top Soldier and NCO of Region II at the 2018 Region II Best Warrior Competition May 20, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Terra C. Gatti)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The 2018 Region II Best Warrior Competition brought Soldiers and NCOs from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. to Fort Pickett May 17-20, 2018. After days of physical and mental challenges that had the region’s best Soldiers leaping over obstacles, knocking down targets and testing their military knowledge, Virginia National Guardsman Sgt. Jake Moyer was named the region’s top noncommissioned officer, while Maryland’s Spc. Gerald Villamar was named the top Soldier. The winners from the regional competition will go on to compete at the national level this summer.

Sgt. Jake Moyer, NCO winner of the 2018 Region II Best Warrior Competition, tackles the obstacle course at Fort Pickett, Virginia, May 19, 2018. (U.S. National Guard photo by Terra C. Gatti)

“The way I look at it now, I’m the vessel taking this training and knowledge on to represent the region,” Moyer, who is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said. “It’s not even really about me anymore, it’s about Region II, the state of Virginia and representing them the best way I can come the nationals.”

The competition officially started Thursday night with a written exam. Both Villamar and Moyer cited the exam as one of the toughest parts of the competition and said improving their military knowledge will be a priority as they prepare for nationals.

“I’ve got the field stuff, I’ve got the physical portion, but the military knowledge – the boards, the written exam – that’s what I need to work on,” Moyer said.

The second day of the competition started early, well before the sun came up, and pushed Soldiers through a rain-drenched land navigation course. Several of the Soldiers and NCOs reported that their points were underwater and all returned from the course drenched.

“There were a lot of weather obstacles that were in play,” said Sgt. Joseph Baker, a Pennsylvania National Guard Soldier who came in behind Moyer as the runner-up for top NCO. Virginia’s Spc. Miguel Bustillo was named as the first runner-up on the Soldier side of the competition.

Maryland’s Spc. Gerald Villamar, Soldier winner of the 2018 Region II Best Warrior Competition, works through the mystery event during the competition May 18, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Terra C. Gatti)

The rain continued throughout the day as Soldiers completed a ruck march, competed against one another during a marksmanship challenge and finally testing their knowledge and skills with the Warrior Tasks portion of the competition.

“One of my favorite events was the three-gun competition, which included the M16 rifle, the M9 pistol and the M500 shotgun,” Villamar said.

After zeroing their weapons, the competitors ran from the start point to three positions that required them to engage different types of targets with each of the three weapons. From there, Soldiers ran further down the road, into a building, up the stairs and then engaged their final targets from the second floor of a building at Fort Pickett’s Urban Assault Course.

Moyer also cited the marksmanship competition, along with the ruck march, as his strongest event.

The third day of the competition included more rain and kicked off with an Army Physical Fitness Test. After that, Soldiers and NCOs tackled an obstacle course then headed inside to clean their weapons and work the mystery event which required the competitors to clear, disassemble, assemble and perform a functions check on the M240B.

“What a weekend to be called a Best Warrior,” said Command Sgt. Maj Alan Ferris, Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor.

The final day of the competition brought the Soldiers and NCOs back inside and required them to appear before a board of command sergeants majors who judged their appearance, military bearing and military knowledge.

Sgt. Jake Moyer, NCO winner of the 2018 Region II Best Warrior Competition, finished the ruck march portion of the competition May 19, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Terra C. Gatti)

Finally, the competitors, their sponsors and senior enlisted leaders came together to announce the winners of the weekend’s efforts.

“You all did a great job and I’m proud of each and every one of you and you should all be proud of yourselves,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Cheyenne Johnson, Virginia Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major.

Moyer said he knew when Baker was announced as the runner-up that he’d won the competition.

“I didn’t want to count my eggs before they hatched, but I was trying to figure out the scores myself, but they kept everything pretty locked up,” Moyer said. “I knew that I got it when I didn’t hear my name as first runner-up.”

“I feel excited and proud,” Villamar said at the announcement ceremony. “All the hard work, studying and preparing myself for the competition, it all paid off.”

The national competition will take place at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in late July. NCOs and Soldiers from around the nation will compete at that competition for the chance to be named the best in the nation.

In preparation for the national match, both Moyer and Villamar plan to keep studying and work to improve their military knowledge while also maintaining and improving their physical fitness.


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