HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The top 14 soldiers in the U.S. National Guard took the field Sunday morning at Camp Shelby in the first event to determine who is the National Best Warrior 2020.
Congressman Steven Palazzo, who is a member of the National Guard, and Brett Favre attended the opening event to kick off the four-day competition. The event began with the Army Combat Fitness Test on Sunday morning.
“I think it went outstanding. I think they were motivated, I think they knocked it out and you know I think the crowd was pumped up cheering them on, they had a lot of people here showing their support to them," said Command Sgt. Major John Raines after the first day of competition. "So I think it was a great kick-off to the event.”
Each of the 14 competitors qualified by winning previous competitions.
“Out of the 335,000 U.S. National Guardsmen, they compete at their state level, then they go on and compete at the regional level, and then they make it to the national level." Raines explains, "So the 14 soldiers you see out here today representing 335,00 National Guardsmen throughout the country, are the 14 best competing in this annual competition.”
The Army Combat Fitness test today simulates physical tactical skills, but Raines says as the competition goes on, it’s about more than just strength.
“It’s not just a physical event. I know we’re sitting out here watching an event right now and it looks all physical, but they’ll be put through a series of things that are more academic, more professional, as far as written exams go, as far as essays go, so it’s an all-encompassing total test of the total soldier,” Raines says.
Participants will also compete in medical skills evaluations, obstacle courses, weapons qualifications, wartime scenarios and many more challenging events at both Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg and Camp McCain in Grenada this week.
Despite the threat of tropical weather from Tropical Storm Sally this week, Raines says the competition is still on.
“The weather is going to affect the competition, but hey we’re warriors so it’s going to test the warrior spirit,” said Raines.
The 14 competitors come from 12 different states: Texas, North Dakota, Arizona, New York, Maryland, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi and Nevada.
Mississippi National Guard’s own Staff Sergeant Mitchell Scofield is competing.
This is the first time the Mississippi National Guard is hosting the annual event.
The awards for best 2020 National Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer and 2020 National Best Warrior Soldier will be given out at the closing ceremony at Camp Shelby on Wednesday.