Soldiers compete in three-day Best Warrior CompetitionBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
April 15. 2018 9:59PM
CENTER STRAFFORD — A three-day Best Warrior Competition pitting 20 New Hampshire National Guardsmen and two Canadian soldiers against each other in a battle of physical and mental endurance took place over the weekend.
Sgt. Ryan Picard, of Manchester, talked about why he wanted to compete this year before the land navigation exercise began at 6 p.m. Friday.
“I wanted to motivate myself and my soldiers below me,” Picard said.
Picard said in addition to physical tests, soldiers are given an oral exam and a 50-question written test. There are a lot of facts to memorize, Picard said.
Picard was sponsored this year by Staff Sgt. Michael Benoit of Manchester. All of the competitors have a sponsor who can help them train but cannot assist them during competition.
“I think he’s setting a great example for some of the younger soldiers in our unit,” Benoit said.
Spc. Nicholas Rossetti, of Hudson, just got out of basic training in November. The 20-year-old said he wanted to make his fellow soldiers proud. Their First Sgt. Kandy Fredette is retiring soon, he said.
Spc. Jose Figueroa, of Nashua, competed last year and is a sponsor this year. He described the 12-mile ruck march that happens on Sunday.
“It really tests you. At the six-mile mark my muscles seized up,” Figueroa said of last year’s competition.
Figueroa said he would compete again because it builds resilience.
“That’s what being a warrior is all about,” Figueroa said.
Sgt. Maj. Lore Ford said a competition of this type for the NH National Guard has been held as long as anyone there can remember. Officials started recording the names of winners in the 1990s.
After September 11th, the competition became more physical, Ford explained.
“We wanted to be able to evaluate who is a whole soldier,” Ford said.
Superiors watch to see who their next leaders are during the competition. Ford said many of those in the higher ranks won the title of Best Warrior during their military career.
For the first time this year, Canadians are competing as part of the ongoing training partnership the NH National Guard has with the 5th Canadian Division.
Sgt. Liam Fraser, of Nova Scotia, said he played hockey, rugby, lifted weights and participated in track, so he is a naturally competitive person.
“Whenever there is an opportunity for competition, we’re always happy to come down and have some fun,” Fraser said.
On Sunday morning, two Black Hawks airlifted the competitors to Fort Constitution in New Castle for the ruck march. They followed Routes 1A and 1B to Wallis Sands in Rye and then turned around and headed back to Fort Constitution.
The soldiers were dressed in “battle rattle,” carrying 35-pound rucks or packs and replica M-16s.
Two winners will represent the Granite State at a regional Best Warrior Competition at Camp Smith in New York later this spring.
According to Capt. John Petro, Rossetti won the competition in the soldier division.
Sgt. Zackary Maynard, of Holderness, won the competition for non-commissioned officers, Petro said.