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145th AW Airmen WIN after competing in First Ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition

2014 N.C. National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. 
Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player (center left in photo) is the NCO Category Winner. Player is  assigned to the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron, 145th Airlift Wing. Senior Airman Joshua E. Garrison (center right in photo) is the Soldier/Airman Category Winner. Garrison is also assigned to the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron, 145th Airlift Wing.

2014 N.C. National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player (center left in photo) is the NCO Category Winner. Player is assigned to the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron, 145th Airlift Wing. Senior Airman Joshua E. Garrison (center right in photo) is the Soldier/Airman Category Winner. Garrison is also assigned to the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron, 145th Airlift Wing.

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. 
Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. 
Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. 
Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

2014 N.C. Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners. Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Player and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, North Carolina Air National Guard, compete and win in first ever Joint Army NCNG Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., March 5, 2014. Both Airmen are assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron

BUTNER, N.C. -- It was icy and cold as members of the North Carolina National Guard started the day weighing in and getting ready to compete in the annual Best Warrior Competition. The road to the top is not easy and competitors had to face a multitude of obstacles that tested them both physically and mentally. Events and tasks included: a physical fitness test, a sergeant major board, a road march with heavy packs, obstacle and challenge courses, and weapons qualifications under stressful conditions.

The Best Warrior Competition is an annual, Army-wide event testing the mental and physical strength of its competitors and then name one Soldier and one non-commissioned officer the Best Warrior for that year.

This year's competition however, was very unique. Many Soldiers in North Carolina were surprised to learn that there would also be two Airmen competing alongside them at this year's state level competition, a first for the North Carolina National Guard.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Swart, senior enlisted leader for the North Carolina National Guard, offered to let the 145th Airlift Wing compete in this year's competition and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, 145th Airlift Wing Command Chief, accepted.

"I was willing to accept their invitation and get two airmen into the competition to build some camaraderie," Williams said. "It will give them experience and expose them to the way the Army Guard does things and help build cohesion between the branches."

The two North Carolina Air National guardsmen who volunteered to take on the challenge were Tech. Sgt. Richard Player, who competed in the Non-Commissioned Officer category and Senior Airman Joshua Garrison, who competed in the enlisted category.

When asked how much time they had to actually train for this event Player stated, "There was minimal time to dedicate to the competition due to our ops tempo. Fortunately, our job requires us to be the best we can be so we showed up with our A game." Player and Garrison are Tactical Air Control Party (TACP's) and assigned to the 118th Air Support Operation Squadron.

Both the Airmen and Soldiers in the competition competed in the same events and stayed in the same barracks, giving the service members time to get to know each other.

Sgt. Thiahy Hong said it's only natural that the Air Guard participates in the competition.
"I think it's great that they are competing with us," said Hong, who is presenting the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in the NCO category. "We are always going to be working together. The Air Force used to be part of the Army and we will always need their support."

As the competition continued, soldiers and airmen worked their way over narrow beams that shifted under the slightest pressure, sheer walls, ropes and a series of cargo nets seemed to increase in height as the NCNG members negotiated the station. Cheers can be heard from their peers as the competitors ran, jumped, pushed, pulled, climbed, dove, slithered and slid up, over, under, down and across the more than 20 obstacles.

As the last day approaches a much different test ends the competition. On that final day, with the mind stressed and the body exhausted, the competition goes from a physical battle to a battle of military knowledge, military bearing and leadership as these guardsmen report in their Class A uniforms to face a board of senior NCNG leaders. After all points are added up the long awaited announcement is made.

Congratulations to the first Joint 2014 North Carolina National Guard Best Warrior Competition winners ...... 145th Airlift Wing NCANG, Tech. Sgt. Richard Player and Senior Airman
Joshua Garrison!

Filled with incredible pride, Col. Roger E. Williams, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, congratulates the airmen with heartfelt sincerity for an outstanding job representing NCANG with true professionalism and leadership.

After returning home to a champion's welcome, Player and Garrison both reflected, "It was an honor to bring praise and acknowledgement to our unit in addition to the entire TACP career field. Being the first Air Guardsmen to compete, the recognition from the competition will benefit the 118th ASOS as well as the North Carolina Air National Guard."

GO BLUE!