Airman takes second place in Tennessee’s ‘Best Warrior’ competition

  • Published
  • By SSGT Brittany Crocker, 70th MPAD Army National Guard for 134th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
  • 134th Air Refueling Wing

An Airman from the 134th Security Forces Squadron took second place in the Tennessee Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition.

Airman 1st Class Gene Gunter was named runner-up in the Soldier of the Year category at the state-level competition designed for Soldiers below the grade of E-4.

“It was a real honor to be selected to represent the Wing,” Gunter said. “I enjoyed going to the Army’s playing field and competing with them on things we’re not as familiar with.”

Gunter was one of two Airmen who competed in the State-level competition. He and another Security Forces member, Tech. Sgt. Caleb Woods, competed in Tennessee’s regional 30th Troop Command competition months earlier. Gunter advanced to the state level and Woods advanced as a runner-up to the winning Army Soldier in the senior enlisted category.

“We are extremely excited and thankful to our State and Wing leadership for allowing the opportunity to train and compete with these outstanding Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Art Douglas, 134th SFS commander. “I am extremely proud of our participants and sponsors.

“They have worked so hard to represent the ANG, the Wing, and their fellow Defenders, and they earned a great deal of respect from the Army competitors along the way.” 

The Army Best Warrior competition tests for the best, well-rounded Soldier in the force.

The Airmen competed with Soldiers in events that measure both physical and mental aptitude, including the Army warrior tasks, the Army Air Assault obstacle course, an Army Physical Fitness test, a combat run, a 12-mile ruck march, night- and day-land navigation courses with an accompanying written test and essay contest.

“We started preparing about four or five months before the 30th Troop Command competition,” Gunter said. “It’s been a lot of work during our personal time on physical fitness and studying land navigation.”

Master Sgt. David Grugin, 134th Security Forces Squadron Flight Chief, served as a competition “sponsor” and mentored the Airmen through their competition preparation.

“It’s been intense and fun, just trying to pass on knowledge while learning things as well,” Grugin said. “We’ve all learned from each other, run our own courses, set up our own curriculums and then we would teach each other. I think it’s been very enlightening.”

Grugin said he hopes the 134th Security Forces Airmen can continue to be trailblazers in the Army Best Warrior competition.

“Every opportunity we get to work and train in a joint environment just makes us all stronger, Douglas said. “We look forward to continuing to compete in the future.”

Currently, the competition doesn’t allow for Airmen to progress beyond the Army National Guard’s State-level competitions.

“As far as I know we’re the first Airmen to compete in this event,” Grugin said. “Next year we hope to move on to compete at the district level and then the national level.”

For now, it’s a winning milestone in both competition as well as joint military effectiveness and cohesion.

“We showed the Army we’re capable of doing the same tasks, which demonstrates how effective we are working together in joint missions.”

Airman 1st Class Gene Gunter, a member of the 134th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron, takes a break from the heat of the competition to pose for a portrait. A1C Gunter is one of only two Air Force competitors in the 2019 Tennessee Best Warrior Competition.