NEWS | April 27, 2022

West Virginia and District of Columbia Soldiers, Airmen vie for the title of Best Warrior

By Sgt. Zoe Morris West Virginia Army National Guard

Twenty-three Soldiers and Airmen from the West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG), West Virginia Air National Guard (WVANG), and the District of Columbia Army National Guard (DCARNG), attacked multiple tasks during the 48 hours of the West Virginia National Guard Best Warrior competition at Camp Dawson in Kingwood, West Virginia, April 22-24, 2022.

“Is the goal to win?” WVARNG Command Sgt. Maj. Chadwick Moneypenny, senior enlisted leader, asked the competitors in the opening brief. “That's not the number one goal. It’s to leave here better than how you came. It's to be sharper than before you came.”

“I'm going to ask you to remember two words,” said Moneypenny. “Attack life. Get after it everyday of your life. Be aggressive with everything that is good. And with that same advice, for two and a half days, give me 100 percent. Attack this competition. Give yourself 100 percent. Learn about yourself. Get after it.

“It's tough to volunteer to do something like this,” he said. “There's a little anxiety because you have that natural fear of the unknown. You don't know what to expect. You don't know that you're good enough. But now you're out of your comfort zone and you're faced with a challenge. And I'm telling you this … you're going to be glad that you did. And you're going to come out of this thing a better person.”

The annual Best Warrior Competition tests the physical abilities, leadership skills, teamwork and critical thinking of Soldiers and Airmen as they complete basic and advanced core warrior competencies. Events such as a six-mile ruck march, stress fire, obstacle course, swimming, and night and day land navigation test a warrior’s physical conditioning, while board interviews, a written test and essay completion tests mental preparedness. Additional competencies included radio communications, grenade deployment, gas mask and personal decontamination operations, and medical assessments and treatment.

The intent of each Warrior Skill Level 10 task is to highlight individual readiness. Staff Sgt. Cody Gray, Recruiting and Retention Bn., WVARNG, has been in for 13 years but admitted the skill level 10 tasks were challenging.

“As you'd go through the ranks, sometimes we don't fixate on them as much as we should,” Gray said. “Competitions like this have the ability to humble you, and you realize that you need to get back to the basics sometimes.”

Gray was encouraged to compete by his recruits, who pushed him to push himself. During the competition, however, support comes from an unlikely place: other competitors.

 “Sgt. Gwynn, who won it, is an outstanding dude. Staff Sgt. Dempsey pushed me throughout it, Staff Sgt. Hoban … my recruits make me want to be better and the competitors here make me compete harder.”

Moneypenny also mentioned the second goal of Best Warrior which is, of course, to win.

“Yes, it's a competition,” he said. “We want to recognize those outstanding Soldiers and Airmen that did the best. We're going to recognize them and it's a big deal. This isn't ‘everybody gets a trophy.’ But, everybody comes out better.”

Sgt. Jefferson Gwynn, 119th Engineer Co., 1092nd Engineer Bn., 111th Engineer Bde., earned the title of WVARNG Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year and  Spc. Kendall Harris, Headquarters Detachment, 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 77th Bde. Troop Cmd. earned Soldier of the Year. Harris was also the 2019 Soldier of the Year.

Staff Sgt. Mark Jarrett and Sr. Airman  Jonathan Holmes, both 130th AW, earned NCO and Airman of the Year, respectively.

Staff Sgt. Monique Dingle and Spc. Michael Maglad, both 104th Maintenance Co., 74th Troop Cmd., earned the title of DCARNG NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively.


2022 Best Warrior competitors:

West Virginia Army National Guard

SSG Matthew Black, 753rd Ordinance Co. (EOD), 771st Troop Cmd. Bn.

SFC Jacob Dempsey, Recruiting and Retention Bn.

SSG Cody Gray, Recruiting and Retention Bn.

SGT Jefferson Gwynn, 119th Sapper Engineer Co., 1092nd Engineer Bn.

SSG Joshua Hoban, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 1/201st Field Artillery Bn.

SGT Andrew McGlothlin, Medical Det.

SGT Jack Perry, E Co., 2/19th Special Forces Bn. (Airborne)

SGT Nathan Stepp, B Troop, 1/150th Cavalry Reg.

SGT Justin Taylor, B Co., 1/224th Security and Support Aviation Bn.

SGT Jose Ventura, 35th Civil Support Team, Army Interagency Training and Education Center

SSG Joshua White, Recruiting and Retention Bn.

PFC Joseph Bias, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 111th Engineer Bde.

SPC Tyler Dubovich, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1/150th Cavalry Reg.

PFC Bradley Falls, C Battery, 1/201st Field Artillery Bn.

SPC Kendall Harris, Headquarters Support Co., 2/19th Special Forces Bn. (Airborne)

SPC Nathan Moore, 156th Military Police Det., 771st Troop Cmd. Bn.

SPC Marko Tarley, 601st Engineer Support Co., 1092nd Engineer Bn.


West Virginia Air National Guard

A1C Darby Harris, 167th Airlift Wing

SrA Jonathan Holmes, 130th Airlift Wing

SSgt Mark Jarrett, 130th Airlift Wing


District of Columbia Army National Guard

SSG Monique Dingle, 104th Maintenance Co., 74th Troop Cmd.

SPC Michael Maglad, 104th Maintenance Co., 74th Troop Cmd.

SPC Kristopher Smith, 273rd Military Police Co., 372nd Military Police Bn.


West Virginia will host the regional Best Warrior competition with competitors from West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland at Camp Dawson May 18-20, 2022. Regional winners compete at the Army National Guard level, and finally the U.S. Army’s Best Warrior competition.