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Kentucky Guardsman wins Region III Best Warrior Competition

Aug. 12, 2020 | By carrierogers

By Spc. Jessica Elbouab, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Photo By: Sgt. Brian R. Calhoun
VIRIN: 200812-N-ZY298-21374

The five-day regional Best Warrior Competition was held in Eastover, South Carolina, and hosted by South Carolina Army National Guard Aug. 3- 7.

(Click the following links for additional photos from Day One, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, and the Awards Presentation. A video of the event can also be found here.)

Participants included the best competitors from Kentucky and seven other states.

After performing day-after-day of physically and mentally draining warrior tasks and drills, Spc. Aydin T. Chester, a member of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery in Carrollton, Ky., was announced the winner of the Region III Best Warrior Competition.

"The schedule for the Region III Best Warrior was meant to have little to no downtime for any of the competitors," said State Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers of the Kentucky National Guard. "Typically, these Soldiers started their day at 4 a.m., and then were allowed to lay their heads down sometime around 10 p.m." 

Spc. Aydin T. Chester of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery in Carrollton, Ky., prepares for his round in the Pugil competition on Aug. 6, 2020, in Eastover, South Carolina. Representing the state of Kentucky, Chester won the 2020 Region III Best Warrior Competition and is headed to nationals in September (Photo courtesy of South Carolina Army National Guard)

The long days consisted of ruck marches, Army physical fitness tests, weapons qualifications, Army knowledge boards, day and night land navigation, combat medical drills, 100-meter swim test in uniform, and other rigorous tasks.

 "I wasn't expecting to win, but that didn't mean I was going to lay down and give half effort through the competition," said Chester, the cannoneer from Crestwood, Ky. "Everybody has their limits, but if you are self-aware and try your absolute hardest, what more can you do?"

Chester's road to the regional competition was uncertain from the beginning. The competition starts at a battalion level then progressed to compete against others around the state. Chester was selected for the battalion event just days before the competition took place. After taking the top spot in the battalion and moving on to state, Chester placed second in Kentucky’s Best Warrior Competition in October 2019.

"I was runner-up for the state competition, so I thought my journey was over," said Chester. "However, about three weeks before the competition, I got a call that said 'hey, the guy that beat you can't go, so you are in!”.

Prior to this event taking place in South Carolina, Chester lived a quarantine lifestyle dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The late notification of being accepted in the competition meant he then had only three weeks to get back to his physical and mental best; which provided him a great challenge during a time of uncertainty.

"He always had a never-quit mentality," said Withers. "He truly put his best foot forward and he kept that positive mentality. So, I think that is what earned him the honors of Region III Best Warrior."

The next stop is the national competition for the specialist. Chester and his leadership have taken note of the areas he needs to improve, but this week he is dedicating his time on rest, recovery, and reflection of his regional performance.

"I went off to this competition and I made sure I had my Kentucky state flag with me, and my Alpha Battery flag too, so when I was out there I could represent," said Chester.

The Best Warrior Competition is an annual event. Soldiers, as well as non-commissioned officers, are encouraged to reach out to their command team for information on how to represent Kentucky next year.

"For any Soldiers that wish to represent their unit, Battalion, and Brigade--you have the right and the opportunity to do so," Withers encouraged. "Don't ever quit. Keep digging one event at a time and you will come away a winner; you could come away with the privilege to call yourself the best warrior for your Brigade, Battalion, and potentially your state like Specialist Chester."

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