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NEWS | April 30, 2024

Kentucky, Tennessee emerge victorious at 2024 Region III Best Warrior

By Milt Spalding, Kentucky Army National Guard Public Affairs Office

Soldiers from Kentucky and Tennessee earned top honors in the 2024 Army National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition in Greenville, April 14-19, 2024.

Hosted by the Kentucky National Guard, the event put Soldiers from ten states and territories through a week of grueling challenges to see which Soldier and which NCO would finish with the most points.

Spc. Noah Green, a combat engineer assigned to 890th Sapper Company, Tennessee Army National Guard, earned the top honor as Region III Soldier of the Year, while Sgt. Robert Buck, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to 130th Engineer Support Company, Kentucky Army National Guard, was named NCO of the Year.

"It's an honor anytime you get chosen by a region or state to represent at the next level,” Green said. “I feel very proud and very blessed to be in this room with all of these Soldiers and be able to do what we do."

“I'm excited for [Tennessee] because now these Soldiers are going to take what they learned here back to their units and make better Soldiers all around,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles F. Haynes of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.

To make it to the top, these winners had to beat the top entries from nine other states and territories in the region. Region III consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Soldiers were tested in their military skills, endurance, intellect, and might, over more than 30 events.

Highlights included Army warrior tasks, individual movement techniques at a grenade training range, rifle, pistol, and grenade launcher qualifications lanes, an obstacle course, water survival, medical skills, a stress shoot event, a raft-run-ruck challenge, military operations in urbanized terrain, and various other fitness and Soldier challenges.

Kentucky State Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers said the primary benefit of the Best Warrior Competition lies in its capacity to test and enhance the skills and combat effectiveness of NCOs and Soldiers.

“I really wanted to take the approach of looking at the capabilities of the force structure within the Kentucky National Guard and how we can enhance our available training facilities in order to deliver the best possible competition to all of the competitors,” Withers said. “And hopefully, we delivered on expectations for those competitors.”

In addition to events at WHFRTC, competitors were also flown via UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters courtesy of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade to the Harold L. Disney Training Center near Barbourville for several events such as land navigation and the combat water survival test.

“This is an awesome opportunity, and I am thrilled. Every person here is deserving, but I am honored to be the winner,” said Buck. “I am going to do my best to train and prepare for the All Army. I want to represent Kentucky the best way I can and bring home a win.”

Green and Buck earned the invite to the Army National Guard’s Best Warrior to be held this fall in Vermont which crowns the overall title for this year’s Soldier and NCO of the Year.

Runners up were Spc. William Hillman, an air defense battle management systems operator from 1-204th Air Defense Artillery, Mississippi Army National Guard, and Staff Sgt. William Lukens, an infantryman from 2-278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennesse Army National Guard.

“I really believe that the competitors have put forth their best efforts in competing this week,” Withers said. “I know Region three will be well represented at the national level competition.”

This is the first time that Kentucky has hosted the regional competition since 2017.

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