NEWS | May 14, 2021

Kentucky earns runner-up at 2021 Region III Best Warrior Competition

By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky Guardsmen, Staff Sgt. James Weitzman and Spc. Dakota Michel, proved their soldiering skills at this year’s Region III Best Warrior Competition May 3-7, hosted at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

During the event, Michel, an infantryman assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, made a lasting impression on the judges and earned 1st Runner-Up for Region III BWC Soldier of the Year.

“I am proud of each and every one of you and how you represent our organization,” said Brig. Gen. Haldane Lamberton, Kentucky’s Adjutant General. 

Lamberton personally honored and congratulated these Soldiers along with the Airmen of the Year from the 123rd Airlift Wing during a ceremony May 13, held at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

“The quality of our Service members cannot be overstated. You are a reflection of our organization and how far we’ve come over the years,” said Lamberton.

Weitzman, from the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, and Michel competed against representatives from ten southeastern states and territories for their respective titles as NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year. Only the winners would advance to the national event in July at Camp Navajo, near Flagstaff, Arizona.

The warriors were tested on their Soldier knowledge, strength and conditioning, weapons capabilities, communication skills, and more during a grueling gauntlet of tasks over five days.

“The past few years have been fruitful for the Mountain Warriors in terms of competitions,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Benzie Timberlake of the 1-149th. “This year, Spc. Michel has trained consummately for this, and it has shown through his results.”

Fellow Mountain Warrior Spc. Jerry Marksbury III, also from C-Co., 1-149th, recently returned from Army’s Best Ranger competition held last month. Keep following the Kentucky Guard for updates on his story.

Michel said he owes part of his success to the training he receives in Kentucky’s only infantry battalion.

“Being in the infantry has been nice for this competition,” said Michel, from Middletown, Ky. “We practice warrior tasks regularly, and I have been taking my Ranger handbook everywhere I go. The handbook is vital for anyone wanting to compete at BWC.” 

According to his first sergeant, Michel has been working at levels above his rank and recently took a sergeant-level slot at C-Co. 

“He is a very motivated and knowledgeable young soldier and will be a great asset for the company's success in its upcoming deployment,” said 1st Sgt. Jason Moore. “We are happy to have him.”

According to Kentucky competitors, the 2021 Region III BWC came with difficulties.

“The competition was quite stressful and hectic,” said Michel. “Each day was jam-packed full with at least two to three major events and [Army Warrior Tasks] mixed in. My favorite event was the Stress Shoot, and I think I did the best at that. The Ruck was the most difficult—it rained on us the entire time.”

Only the winners made it to the next level, but Michel’s battle for Best Warrior is far from over.

“As runner-up, I am the substitute for the winner,” he said. “I still need to train as if I am the one competing. I do plan to compete for the NCO of the Year once I make E-5.”

Michel and Weitzman’s journey began at the 2020 Kentucky National Guard Best Warrior Competition, held at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in October 2020. Read about that event with additional photos by visiting https://kentuckyguard.dodlive.mil/2020/10/27/best-warrior-competition-2020/.