A veteran of the contest, Sgt. Marc Doss came to Camp McCain March 6 - 10 for the 2017 Mississippi National Guard Best Warrior Competition with one goal – to win.
The Company B, 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry Regiment noncommissioned officer returned to the multi-faceted Soldiers’ competition with a new strategy and a singular focus to push himself to his physical and mental limits.
Doss said he did pretty well in the 2016 competition, but “had a lot of room for improvement.” He trained harder between events by ruck marching, running and a more targeted gym routine.
“I feel a lot more confident,” Doss said before the start of the competition. “I feel like I’m a lot more prepared than last year and I know what’s coming to me now.”
The additional training paid off. Doss was chosen to represent NCOs at the Southeast Regionals competition in Kentucky with a chance to advance to the nationals. Soldiers (E-4s and below) will be represented by Spc. Stanley Powell, 1st Battalion, 204th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. The winners of the competition were announced April 22 at the NCO Association Conference banquet.
Doss said that although he worked hard for the selection, he was still surprised and pleased to be selected.
“I’m excited,” Doss said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t think I won.”
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy had doubts throughout the competition. He said the event was even harder this year. It also featured the emergence of the Mississippi Air National Guard competing for the first time.
He hoped lessons he learned last year about the events would carry him past his mainly rookie competitors. Many of those lessons were applied the first day, which began with a standard Army Physical Fitness Test that rolled into a 5k run.
“I have a different strategy than last year,” he said. “I’m going to run my two miles as hard as I can and not worry about the 5K as much. I tried to save myself for the 5K last year and it lowered my APFT score.”
As the drizzle that fell upon the APFT turned into a torrential downpour, the competitors prepared for the next event of the day – a land navigation course that Doss said really hurt him in the previous competition.
“It was a disaster last year,” Doss said. “I was trying to keep up with the competition, so I missed three plot points and came in after time expired.”
That meant he received no points for the event, which is scored by time and the number of sites plotted correctly. Points only count if the competitor comes in before time expires.
“Even if you don’t win on time, but you get the most amount of correct plots you can still win on points,” Doss said.
Drenched and tired, the competitors then had to display their knowledge of several Army Warrior Tasks, such as call for artillery fire/close air support and timed weapons disassembly and reassembly, that went late into the night.
Night still covered the camp like a shroud as the 17 competitors shouldered their 40 lb. rucksacks for the expected march to the rifle range, but more surprises lay in wait when it was announced the timed event had been increased to 12 miles.
“I came into it thinking it was going to be six miles again, so I was shocked,” Doss said. “I had been training for six. About mile six I started really cramping. You really just have to push through the pain. That’s the main thing to winning this competition.”
Doss was one of seven competitors to complete the ruck march under time. Despite his finish, he still felt he was trailing in total points.
The last day was a crucible of physical and mental toughness. Already exhausted from two grueling days, the competitors were confronted with yet another physically-taxing timed event in the confidence course.
“I’m really honored that my unit has the confidence in me to encourage me to do this. And that, of all the NCOs in the unit, they saw me fit to be here,” Doss said. “I’m trying to win this state competition so I can go on to regionals.”
The infantryman said when he takes the stage with Powell at the NCOA convention he expects the experience to be emotional.
“I may tear up a little bit. This will be my last year – win or lose. I want to open this experience up to other Soldiers.”