Army reservists compete for warrior title

MARYSVILLE — U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Lam rounded the final corner of a two-mile run.

Other soldiers, including Command Sgt. Maj. Vicki Briggs of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, cheered her on Friday morning near Navy Lodge Everett. The morning run was the final part of a physical fitness test in a competition among seven soldiers for the title of “Best Warrior.”

“You go, Sgt. Lam, good job,” Briggs yelled.

Lam, 30, finished the run in about 13 and a half minutes. The Marysville woman was happy with her time and glad the run was over.

“I feel good about getting out here and just getting the test over with,” said Lam, who is part of the 364th. “Every event we get done is another step closer, so I’m happy about every one we get knocked out.”

Lam and six men are all part of an annual Army-wide Best Warrior Competition of strength, endurance and knowledge. The competitors already beat out fellow soldiers in other battalions and brigades throughout the 364th, which has units in seven Western states. The headquarters for the entire 364th is the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center.

The soldiers who had advanced to this week’s competition were from Utah, Montana and Washington state.

The competition began Thursday night and is scheduled to end Sunday. The soldier who earns the highest overall score will receive an Army commendation medal and advance to the next stage of events scheduled April 22-27 in Los Alamitos, Calif. The winner then advances to the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior competition in July at Fort McCoy, Wis.

“The intent is to test them on not just their basic knowledge of their job, but on their physical skills all the way across the board,” Briggs said.

The event on Friday included time for Army reservists to be judged on their appearance and how well they answered questions about military subjects. The competition today and on Sunday includes day and night land navigation exercises, a road march and wrestling and mixed martial arts.

The soldiers will carry packs of equipment weighing 35 to 50 pounds on their backs during the road march, Briggs said.

“They’ll have a pretty rough road march,” she said. “Our road march is just over five miles but it’s significantly uphill.”

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Alexander of Salt Lake City, Utah, said he was looking forward to the road march.

“It always gives me an opportunity to think a lot,” said Alexander, who is part of the 96th Headquarters and Headquarters Company Special Troops Battalion.

He finished first in the run with a time slightly over 12 minutes. Alexander, 29, decided to enter this year’s event because he enjoyed helping to organize a level of last year’s competition in Iowa.

“We have a lot of respect for our competitors here so even if I don’t win it’s still great to be with them and meet different people,” he said.

Lam said she chose to be in the competition to set an example.

“I feel like as leaders we should set the example for our soldiers,” she said. “We want our soldiers to get more involved in things like this, so as leaders we should be out here showing them how to do it.”

The competition includes some unexpected challenges. On Thursday night, soldiers were faced with having to rebuild different weapons that were broken into parts.

The rest of the competition is likely to present other new obstacles, Alexander said.

“I know that sergeant major is doing a lot of surprises, and I’m expecting tough competition,” Alexander said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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