Alaskan wins regional Soldier of the Year honors

Sgt. First Class Theanne Tangen

Soldiers compete in regional Best Warrior Competition 

 By Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Tangen 

SDNG Public Affairs Office 

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The best enlisted Soldier and noncommissioned officer from eight states competed in the National Guard Bureau’s Region 6 Best Warrior Competition hosted by the South Dakota National Guard, May 19-21, in Rapid City and throughout the Black Hills. 

Sixteen Guardsmen competed in a variety of mentally and physically demanding events designed to challenge the toughest of Soldiers. The contestants competed for the ultimate title, to be named as either the region’s Soldier or Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. 

Events included written exams, battle drills, M-16 rifle marksmanship, land navigation, an obstacle course, a 10.8-mile road march and a physical fitness test. Soldiers earned points for each event with the highest point earners in each competition advancing to represent the region at the national competition. 

“The Best Warrior competition is not necessarily about being the best at everything, but it’s about being the best overall Soldier,” said SDARNG State Command Sgt. Maj. Susan Shoe. “It is impressive to see the caliber of Soldiers competing here and testing their Army values and Warrior ethos.” 

“When a Soldier was challenged with a task, it was common to see the competitors encourage each other, living up to the Warrior Ethos – ‘I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, I will never leave a fallen comrade”’, said Shoe. 

Last year’s Region 6 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Carver, Oregon ARNG explained what it takes to win. 

“You have to be well-rounded,” said Carver. “You have guys in this competition who are athletic, but their soldiering skills are not up to par and vice versa. It takes a balance of both to win.” In addition to being physically fit and technically proficient, you have to have an internal drive to persevere through the fast-paced, exhausting three days of constantly being physically and mentally tested, said Carver. 

Speaking from experience, Carver said he believes that participating in the Best Warrior Competition develops a Soldier into a better leader. 

“I can guarantee these Soldiers will walk away better leaders,” he said. “They will be more technically and physically sound, due to the amount of preparation it takes to compete. Studying Army leadership manuals for months will result in the information being engrained and that will make them be more effective as leaders.” 

Spc. Dalton DeBoer, SDARNG contestant, of Clear Lake, S.D., testified to the amount of studying required. 

“There is a lot of information to study and be tested on,” said DeBoer. “Being in this competition motivated me to study warrior tasks that I haven’t used in a while.” 

Not only will the participants leave this competition as better leaders, they are also a source of inspiration for Soldiers in their home state, said Carver. 

The NCO who claimed this year’s Region 6 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year title was Sgt. 1st Class Scott Stimpson, from the Oregon ARNG. Staff Sgt. Sam Schaefers, SDARNG, of Watertown, 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery, finished as the runner-up. 

Spc. David Notti, (who grew up in Alaska) Montana ARNG, won the title of Region 6 Soldier of the Year. Spc. Elijah Putnam, Idaho ARNG, finished as the runner-up. 

Stimpson and Notti edged out 14 other Soldiers from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota and will advance to compete at the national level competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas in July. 


S.D. National Guard press release