By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
The Louisiana National Guard’s top 17 Soldiers and Airmen from across the state competed in the 2022 Best Warrior Competition (BWC) at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, March 8-11.
The BWC is an annual event that tests Soldiers and noncommissioned officers (NCO) on their basic and advanced warrior skills with the top two being named Soldier and NCO of the Year. Throughout the four-day event, competitors are given multiple exercises and scenarios that test them both physically and mentally.
This was the first year that Louisiana Airmen have competed alongside the Soldiers of LANG.
“Rivalries and competitions breed excellence. While we are all brothers and sisters in arms, both the Army and Air Guard want to come out on top,” said Tech. Sgt. Dustin Divincenti, with the 62nd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team, 61st Troop Command.
Divincenti is a New Orleans native and one of two Airmen to represent the Air Guard in the competition.
The competition started with competitors in their Army and Air Force service uniforms conducting board interviews with the Joint Force Headquarters’ senior enlisted advisors and command sergeants major from across the state. Upon completion of the board interviews, competitors moved into a classroom to complete an individual essay based on respect and leadership in the military.
On the second and third days, competitors conducted several events that included individual weapons qualification, both day and night land navigation, an obstacle course and a stress shoot.
“I competed last year and came in second place which left me with the sensation of having the potential of winning it. I learned from the mistakes I made last year and made the promise to myself that I was going to come back and win it,” said Sgt. Juan Martinez, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and a member of E Company, 204th Theater Airfield Operations Group. “I was determined that I was going to do my best to achieve my goal and trained in the two main aspects that are evaluated in this competition: Army knowledge and skills, and a lot of physical training to make sure my body was conditioned for the demand of four days of competition.”
The competition concluded on day four with a water survival test consisting of three events followed by a 12-mile ruck march and mystery event.
“The most challenging part of the competition was the 12-mile road march. This was mostly because of all the events that came before it throughout the week,” said Divincenti. “By the time we had made it to the road march I was already exhausted, so it truly tested my mental and physical limits. With that said, coming across that finish line to my chain of command’s cheers was one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt.”
Sgt. Juan Martinez and Tech. Sgt. Dustin Divincenti were announced as the winners of the competition and named 2022’s Soldier and NCO of the year respectively.
During the awards ceremony on the evening of the last day, competitors were joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford J. Ockman Jr., the command senior enlisted leader of LANG; Command Sgt. Maj. Sud A. Robertson, LANG senior enlisted advisor-Army; Command Chief Master Sgt. Gerald G. Raynal Jr., LANG senior enlisted advisor-Air; along with command sergeants major and commanders from across the state.
“Each year it amazes me the physical condition that you all bring yourself here in and how you prepare yourself for the competition. No one here goes back a loser because you’re going to learn things that I promise you will never see at your unit,” said Ockman. “This competition will bring you to the next level in your unit, so be proud of what you’ve done here and what you can do.”
“Congratulations to everyone; you took my intent and guidance to work hard, give it 110% and display teamwork … and everybody made it through the competition. Everybody did exactly what they had to do,” said Robertson. “Take what you have done these last few days and bring it back to your units. Runners-up and winners get ready, we will come up with a training schedule for you to train on for the Region V Best Warrior Competition in Oklahoma.”
“I appreciate Senior Master Sgt. Louk for having the vision and constantly pushing to get the Air Guard involved,” said Raynal. “It has been inspiring to watch you all push not only yourselves, but your co-competitors. I am proud to call each and every one of you teammates.”
Due to Divincenti being an Airmen and the regional competition being an all Army competition, he will not, at this time, be able to represent Louisiana during the next competition. Martinez and the NCO runner-up, Sgt. Brett Pierce, a Shreveport native and member of the 39th Military Police Company, will represent Louisiana in the Region V Best Warrior Competition at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, May 15-21.