By Edwin Wriston
A member of the West Virginia National Guard has earned the honor to test his warrior skills, grit, and endurance at the national level.
Sgt. Jefferson Gwynn, a combat engineer with the 119th Sapper Company, will represent West Virginia at the national-level Best Warrior Competition to be held in Smyrna, Tennessee, July 22-29, 2022.
Gwynn earned the opportunity to compete against the best the National Guard has to offer from around the nation after being named the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year at the Region II Best Warrior Competition, held at Camp Dawson, West Virginia, in May.
Competitors at BWC events complete in both basic and advanced core warrior competencies measuring skills, toughness, endurance, and perseverance. Winners advance from the state level to a regional competition, with those winners then representing their entire region at the national level.
Best Warrior Competitions are grueling, with competitors beginning each day well before sunrise and finishing each day’s activities well after sunset. Activities during a typical BWC event include the Army Combat Fitness Test, stress shooting with multiple weapons platforms, nighttime land navigation, combat medical triage, stabilization and evacuation skills, an obstacle course, a multi-mile ruck march, and swimming proficiency, along with written essays and performance boards. The multi-day event pushes Soldiers to their very limits, both physically and mentally.
Gwynn, who grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia as a multi-sport athlete, is competing in his first BWC events this year. When asked about his experience competing thus far, his answer was simple:
“I wanted to have the opportunity to push myself to the max and to represent the 119th and show what our unit is capable of,” stated Gwynn. “I have enjoyed competing, meeting the other competitors, and testing my limits. The competitions have been more fun than I ever expected them to be.”
Asked what he has learned through his participation in BWC events, Gwynn stated, “I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other because I learned that all of my goals are achievable.”
Gwynn will be joined at the national BWC by Region II Soldier of the Year, Spc. Daniel Reading from the Maryland National Guard. Region 2 consists of Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.
Outside of his military career, Gwynn is a senior at West Virginia University working toward a bachelor's degree in Energy Land Management. His future goals include one day hiking the Appalachian Trail.
While Gwynn will be cheered on during the National BWC by the entire West Virginia National Guard, his biggest support will come from his family who also serve in uniform, including his father, Lt. Col. Gary Gwynn and his brother Spc. Jason Gwynn.