U.W. Army Sgt. Shawn Hulbert, of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 740th Transportation Company of Milbank, was one of eight soldiers to compete in the state’s Best Warrior Competition near Fort Meade April 20-22. The top four enlisted soldiers and four non-commissioned officers took part in the event which named the Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for the State of South Dakota.
The Best Warrior Competition tests each competitor’s Army knowledge, skills, and abilities while adding the additional pressure of competition. The three-day event began with a welcome from State Command Sgt. James Hoekman, the SDNG’s senior enlisted leader, and a drill floor lined with command sergeants major shouting “Gas! Gas! Gas!”
Once in their full chemical and biological protective suits with their masks on, competitors moved to a Firearms Training Simulator where they engaged targets with the M16 rifle. Moments later, competitors were handed a 50-question test as they boarded a bus to the outdoor firing range at West Camp Rapid to qualify on the M16 and M9 pistol. Testing continued with events ranging from building firing positions, to conducting an ambush, to a late-night obstacle course.
The second day began with the Army Physical Fitness test, followed by lanes testing their abilities to evaluate and treat a casualty, request medical evacuation, a timed five-mile ruck march, a land navigation course, and a final testing of familiarization with three weapons systems.
The third and final day placed competitors in front of a board of sergeants major who quizzed them on Army knowledge before scores were tallied and winners were announced at the National Guard Association conference in Rapid City.
Staff Sg. Bjorn Henstein, Joint Force Headquarters, was named the 2016 SDARNG Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. Spc. Trent Miller of the 200th Engineer Company was named the 2016 SDARNG Soldier of the Year. The two will move on to the Region 6 competition in May where they will represent SDARNG against soldiers from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,4 and North Dakota.
Sgt. Hulbert was one of four in the Non-Commissioned Officer category. He resides in Volga and is the son of Renae Dinter-Hulbert of Milbank.
Photo identification – US Army Sgt. Shawn Hulbert shoots an azimuth on the land navigation course during the second day of the Best Warrior Competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Chad Carlson/Released).