NEWS | June 4, 2022

Two Utah Soldiers awaken "Warrior Spirit" at Region VII Best Warrior Competition

By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack

A Soldier’s transformation into a warrior is difficult to describe. Hand-picked by leadership, proving themselves with every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, and every labored breath; Soldiers who compete naturally don the title of Best Warrior for their unit, regardless of whether they win. It’s called the Best Warrior Competition for a reason. A fitting title, each iteration features a gathering of the best asset the Army has to offer—the warrior. Winners are awarded the honor of moving on, but being chosen to compete in the first place is, in itself, a great accomplishment that commands respect.

Seven different states, including Utah, and the territory of Guam sent their strongest, fittest, most capable Soldiers to compete in the Region VII Best Warrior Competition on the island of Guam, May 23-26, 2022. The competition crowned a new Soldier-of-the-Year and Non-Commissioned-Officer-of-the-Year for the region.

The Utah Army National Guard sent Cpl. Spencer Fayles with the 144th Area Support Medical Company, and Staff Sgt. Jackson Fagan with the Utah National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion as this year’s representatives.

Fayles placed first in the Soldier-of-the-Year category, while Fagan placed fourth in the NCO-of-the-Year category.

Leading the pack following the mystery event, Fayles was nothing but humble regarding his winning performance.

“I've been surrounded by people better than me all the way leading up to this, who trained me and helped me and put a lot of effort into me,” said Fayles. “Master Sgt. Baker, Staff Sgt. White, they were there with me and helped me every step of the way. I wouldn't be here without them.”

Participants competed in a host of activities during the competition testing many key skills, proficiencies, and physical fitness abilities.

Monday morning, the Soldiers put their physical fitness on display early during the Army Combat Fitness Test. The ACFT features six events designed to simulate situations a Soldier would likely face in combat. The events included deadlift, standing-power throw, hand-release pushup, sprint-drag-carry, plank, and two-mile run.

Later in the day, they were put through a grueling obstacle course and stress-shoot lanes. It was a very hot and humid day on the island as well, making everything extra tough on the competitors.

“Through all of those events it was obvious that our competitors had done a significant amount of preparation and were ready for the challenges that the rest of the week was going to present,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Nielsen, senior enlisted leader, Utah National Guard.

“Although I was obviously pulling for the Utah Army National Guard competitors, something that I am always impressed by is the quality of the Soldiers and NCOs competing. Watching and participating in the Best Warrior Competitions is always inspiring and humbling to me.”

Tuesday morning, the competitors wielded a map and compass to complete a four-hour, land-navigation course. They continued to showcase their knowledge of weapon systems, radio communication, and combat medical response that afternoon during the eight-station Army Warrior Tasks event. Most of the tasks involved the proper handling and knowledge of specific weapon systems. The Soldiers had limited time to clear, disassemble, and reassemble weapons such as the M4 carbine, M249 squad automatic weapon, M240B medium machine gun, and Mark 19 grenade machine gun–all weapons they are likely to encounter when deployed in a combat-ready zone.

Wednesday brought the Soldiers indoors for the day. Looking sharp wearing the Army Service Uniform, each Soldier and NCO was graded on proper uniform wear, composure under pressure in front of a command sergeants major board, and ability to write a 500-word essay.

Throughout the day, each competitor also sat down with the Guam Army National Guard Public Affairs Officer, Cpt. Mark Scott, to discuss their experiences.

Fagan shared an ancient Native American quote, which he said summarizes the character of each competitor and why they competed. The quote reads, “When the warrior within you awakens, you will no longer fear death. You will realize that a person can kill your body, but they can never kill your soul.”

He went on to say, “that’s what it takes to be a best warrior–when you have a strong heart, you’re willing to give it all.”

It turned out that every competitor needed to hear that quote that day, as Thursday brought the culminating mystery event–the competition finale.

Many people don’t realize that Guam is home to the tallest mountain on Earth. That’s including below sea level because the 1,332-foot Mount Lamlam also extends down the Mariana Trench. For the pinnacle event, the competitors hiked to the top of Mount Lamlam. The nearly 10-mile event started with a two-mile swim from Coco’s Island to the main island, immediately followed by a six-mile uphill ruck march.

Fayles, reflecting on the event at the top of the mountain, said it was brutal.
“It was challenging. It was awesome. This one from the island was tough and then followed by that ruck in this heat. Super challenging.”

Challenging as it was, both Utah Soldiers conquered it all, ultimately earning the respect of the staff and every competitor.

Fagan expressed it was a humbling experience representing his family.
“It's not for me. It's for them,” he said. “I want to be the best father and husband that I can be and just represent them well, make them proud so that one day they'll be able to look up to their dad and just be proud.”

Nielsen likes what he sees in the up-and-coming generation of warriors.

“The takeaway I always have is that the future of the Army is in good hands, and the next generation of senior leaders are competent, motivated, and professional.”

Fayles moves on to the national competition, and both Soldiers have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments. They have solidified their spot in the small ring of National Guard best warriors.

 

 

 

Your Career Starts Here

Brig. Gen. Frank Gräfe, the defense attaché from the Federation of Germany to the United States, (left) and Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Boyack, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard & Assistant Adjutant General-Air, (right) pose using the iconic “thumbs up” that Gail Halvorsen was known for on May 20th at the Provo City Cemetary. The Utah Air National Guard was in attendance to show support and honor the heroic efforts of Gail Halvorsen. (Utah Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Nicholas Perez)
Honoring a war hero who delivered hope
By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Perez | May 31, 2022
Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber”, was honored by top leadership from the Utah Air National Guard, Utah National Guard, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with the laying of two...

The Utah National Guard FEMA Region VIII Homeland Response Force held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site which included a demonstration and static display of capabilities May 10, 2022 at Camp Williams, Utah. The CSVS is one of only three military owned Urban Search and Rescue training venues west of the Rocky Mountains. This CSVS will allow both military search and extract and civilian search and rescue teams the opportunity to train together and build those necessary partnerships needed in an “all hazards” response. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Camp Williams adds a Premiere Search and Extraction Training Site to Benefit the Homeland Response Force, State, Region, and Nation.
By Lt. Col. Robert Ramage Warden | May 11, 2022
The Utah National Guard has a new training site for the Region VIII Homeland Response Force’s search and extraction team, as well as partner civilian urban search and rescue teams. Lt. Col. Erick R. Wiedmeier, commander of...

Members of the Combined Veterans Honor Guard joined members from the Utah National Guard Honor Guard in conducting military funeral honors for the remains of Cpl. David Milano April 29, 2022 in Ogden, Utah. Milano went missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, during the Korean War. After 71 years, his remains have been repatriated to the United States and have been laid to rest on U.S. soil. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
A Family's Faith: Chosin Soldier Comes Home
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | May 3, 2022
Often referred to as “the Forgotten War,” the Korean War’s significance tends to be overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. Even in that light, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Korean War service members are...

Chief Warrant Officer4 Deena Haag
The Utah National Guard Celebrates Women’s History Month in March 2022
By (Courtesy article) | March 31, 2022
During the month of March, the Utah National Guard celebrates Women’s History and honors and acknowledges the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. Women have played a vital...

The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah. This event marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the group has rallied to reunite and reflect on their time spent in service to the nation, state, and community of Southern Utah.
2-222 Field Artillery Battalion “Triple Deuce” holds reunion for former and current members
By Maj. Emilio Suazo | March 19, 2022
The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah...

Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith receives his certificate of retirement from Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony, March 14, 2022, at Camp Williams, Utah. Smith, whose most recent assignment was assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, was joined by family, friends and community members to celebrate his 36-year career in the military. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith, former assistant adjutant general-Army, retires after 35-years of service
By Staff Sgt. Ariel Solomon | March 16, 2022
Family, friends, co-workers and community members gathered to say farewell to Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith, the former assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony March 15, 2022, in the Lundell...

Maj. Gen Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, passes the organizational colors to Brig. Gen. Joseph Green during a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022 at Draper, Utah. During the change-of-command ceremony, Brig. Gen. Joseph Green assumed the role of assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, from Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel J. Solomon)
Utah National Guard promotes and welcomes new assistant adjutant general-Army at change-of-command ceremony
By 1st Sgt. John Etheridge | March 14, 2022
The Utah National Guard welcomed its new assistant adjutant general-Army at a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022, at its headquarters building in Draper, Utah...

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Brown passes the 97th Troop Command colors to Col. Tammy Manwaring during the change-of-command ceremony on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. Manwaring will then pass the colors on to her successor, symbolically relinquishing her responsibility as the unit's commander. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Cpl. Alejandro Lucero)
97th Troop Command conducts change of responsibility
By Cpl. Alejandro Lucero | March 12, 2022
The 97th Troop Command, Utah Army National Guard, conducted a change-of-command ceremony at the Lundell Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Tammy Manwaring relinquished command...

Sgt. First Class Robert Conder, a soldier with the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, Utah National Guard, and members of Boy Scout troop take a break from collecting and loading donations for the Scouting for Food drive in Draper, Utah, Feb. 12, 2022. The Utah National Guard is committed to the Scouting for Food drive as it unites Utahns from multiple counties in the fight against hunger. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Alejandro Lucero)
Utah National Guard Assists Boy Scouts to Feed Utah Families
By Sgt. James Bunn | Feb. 17, 2022
Soldiers from the Utah National Guard partnered with Boy Scouts of America to collect food donations across Utah for Scouting for Food Day Feb. 12, 2022. This year approximately 75 Utah National Guard members helped deliver...

Utah National Guard Soldiers learn how to take blood pressure during their two-day Nurse Aide Training. 

Nine members of the Utah National Guard’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force receive clinical training support from Avalon Health Care staff at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins beginning Feb. 9, 2022.
Soldiers help amid omicron surge in Southern Utah
By Ileen Kennedy | Feb. 16, 2022
As the spike in the omicron variant of COVID-19 cases affect Southern Utah, the Utah National Guard COVID-19 Joint Task Force deployed 17 Soldiers to assist at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah, and St. George...