The winners of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Lightning Warrior Week Competition were announced Thursday at Howze Theater during a noncommissioned officer induction ceremony.
Staff Sgt. Waylon Wren, a medic in the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, won this year’s competition, and Spc. Matthew Stark, of the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was named the junior-enlisted winner.
The competition took place March 25-28, and its purpose was to test and determine the soldiers within the Lightning Brigade who were able to demonstrate the best skills and knowledge of tactical and technical military operations.
The brigade’s competition included the Army physical fitness test, warrior tasks and battle drills, day and night land navigation, a mystery event, combatives and a board.
To get started, Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Sutton, brigade operations sergeant major, briefed the competitors. He said the week would challenge the competitors physically and mentally, as well as identify their weaknesses and strengths.
The fitness test kicked off the four-day competition. It was followed by warrior tasks and battle drills.
“The Army warrior task lanes provided a validation of the tasks the Army needs us to be proficient at,” Wren said.
This year, soldiers were evaluated on skills including movement as a firing team, sending up reports to higher headquarters, evaluating a casualty and medical evacuation. The evaluation of these tasks was completed on several tactical lanes each soldier needed to navigate successfully.
During day and night land navigation, soldiers were given a block of instructions before having to find several grid coordinates.
“The land navigation course was somewhat challenging for the competitors as a whole,” said Sgt. 1st Class Reynaldo Contreras, a senior noncommissioned officer in the brigade operations section.
“We designed the course to be challenging from the start. Land navigation is a perishable skill, and the competitors definitely put their skills to the test,” he added.
For the mystery event, each competitor was expected to properly place awards and decorations on the dress uniform of a person of the opposite gender.
The winners will move on to the Soldier of the Year competition at III Corps.
“By the end of the week, I wanted to hear only one thing echoed across all competitors: ‘Sergeant major, that was the most challenging competition I have ever competed in, or it’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do while serving in the Army,’” Sutton said.