Fayetteville natives named North Carolina National Guard’s top warriors

Of the 12,000 soldiers and airmen who make up the North Carolina National Guard, two soldiers from Fayetteville were named this year’s top warriors.

sergeant. Jacob Reid, a graduate of Jack Britt High School in 2011, won the top NCO award, and Spc. Adrian Ramirez, a graduate of Douglas Byrd High School in 2019, won the award for best soldier.

The annual six-day competition assessed physical fitness, weapons qualification, road marching, land navigation, warrior duties, an exercise marksmanship course and a professional appearance review board for the best non-commissioned officer and enlisted soldier, said Sgt. Major James McKee, a pageant organizer.

Reid and Ramirez stepped forward to represent the state at the regional meet held in May at Camp Blanding, Fla., McKee said.

At statewide competition in March, Reid and Ramirez were among 14 attendees representing each of the North Carolina National Guard’s major subordinate commands.

sergeant.  Jacob Reid, a 2019 graduate of Douglas Byrd High School, was named top non-commissioned officer this year in the North Carolina National Guard's Best Warrior competition.

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Ramirez, who will graduate with an associate’s degree in information technology from Fayetteville Technical Community College in May, grew up in a military family and joined the guard for the educational benefits and to “be part of something big.” taller” than him, he said.

He is an information technology specialist with the 295th Signal Company, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Ramirez said he prepared for the Best Warrior competition with “lots of physical exercise,” reading army study manuals online and asking his NCOs questions. He said his favorite event was the 12-mile ruck because of its challenge.

“You have to be mentally strong and stick with it and not give up,” Ramirez said.

Reid is a weapons repair sergeant with Bravo Company, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team.

With a retired Green Beret father, Reid said a few years ago that he had no direction in his life and his parents gave him an ultimatum to ‘do something with his life’ or make himself fire.

Thinking he wouldn’t like the army, Reid said he decided to try the army part-time and enlisted in the guard by signing paperwork with a recruiter at the Westwood Mall.

SPC.  Adrian Ramirez was named the top soldier in the North Carolina National Guard's Top Warrior Contest this year.

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It has now become a full-time job which he says he enjoys. He said he was aiming to become a flight warrant officer.

Reid said this was the first Best Warrior competition he had entered and he had started training for it in order to progress in the guard.

“It was a way of seeing how I held myself physically and mentally,” he said. “I always tell people that if you train, study and practice, you can do whatever you want.”

Reid said he enjoyed the weapons portion of the competition because he has always been a weapons enthusiast who appreciates the mechanics and history of firearms. He said the medical pathways were the hardest for him.

“I tried not to get nervous when the dummy was bleeding and saw it as ‘I gotta keep this guy alive,'” Reid said. “But in competition, it’s in the rules of the art without skipping steps.”

sergeant. Major McKee said the first day of the competition started with land navigation which turned into a night competition.

The second day was spent writing a two-page leadership essay, followed by a three-hour, 12-mile walk in dry weight.

sergeant.  Jacob Reid, left, competes in the ruck portion of the North Carolina National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held in March 2022.

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Other days were spent in a patrol lane, navigating with radios and medical evacuation requests, an obstacle course and a weapons competition with an M17 pistol, M4 carbine and machine guns.

The third day was dedicated to a 5k combat run that featured Amy warrior duties every quarter mile, followed by medical duties of bandaging and treating wounds or broken bones.

Another day was spent in front of an interview panel, followed by airborne operations, air navigation, improved mapping skills and an inland water swim test which immediately followed the airborne operation.

“Each was scored and weighted according to the difficulty of the task,” McKee said. “For example, if it were a medical task, a needle chest compression would get a few more points than supplementing a fractured arm with a splint.”

McKee said each task is part of the soldier’s basic duties, allowing each competitor to compete regardless of job skill or military occupation.

SPC.  Adrian Ramirez competes in the land navigation portion of the North Carolina National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held in March 2022.

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Some competitors have spent up to four months preparing for the competition which promotes esprit de corps, he said.

“We have a lot of good soldiers who work hard on top of their full-time jobs,” McKee said.

Reid said that although he and Ramirez both grew up in Fayetteville, the competition was the first time they had met.

He is now trying to find a sponsor to help Ramirez train more in weapons and hopes they can both take a medical course at the Regional Training Institute to prepare for the regional competition.

SPC.  Adrian Ramirez, center, was named this year's top soldier in the Carolina National Guard of the Best Warrior Competition and is congratulated by Maj. Gen. Marvin Hunt and Command Sgt.  Major Benjamin Garner.

“In the competition, there was a real emphasis that as NCOs we use the knowledge and training for the next generation of soldiers,” Reid said. “I think that’s something we need to improve… A lot of that training can be practical in the real world, and that’s one thing about the guard is that we also serve our communities. ”

Ramirez said he considers it a blessing to be able to represent the state in the national competition.

“All competitors were capable,” he said. “So that gives me a lot of motivation to keep going and keep pushing myself and not letting anything get in the way.”

Staying the course was his advice to other young soldiers.

“I recently spoke to JROTC students at Douglas Byrd and told them about my experiences in custody,” Ramirez said. “I was in their shoes not so long ago, and if I can do that, any of them can be successful.”

Writer Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.

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