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Space and Missile Defense Command names Best Warriors

As part of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Best Warrior Competition, Soldiers compete in the early hours of the morning June 9 during the 12-mile foot march while carrying a 30-pound ruck at Fort Carson, Colo. (Courtesy photo by Dottie White)

As part of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Best Warrior Competition, Soldiers compete in the early hours of the morning June 9 during the 12-mile foot march while carrying a 30-pound ruck at Fort Carson, Colo. (Courtesy photo by Dottie White)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Soldiers competed as this year's Best Warrior June 7-11 at Fort Carson, Colo., and Peterson Air Force Base.

The USASMDC/ARSTRAT 2015 Best Warriors, named in a ceremony June 11 following four days of competition, were Sgt. Kristopher A. Grayson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, Peterson Air Force Base; and Spc. James French, C Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, Landstuhl, Germany.

The competition consisted of the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, Army warrior tasks and battle drills, 12-mile ruck march, M9 pistol and M4 rifle weapons qualification, written common Soldier knowledge examination, written essay, obstacle course, and appearance in front of a board comprising command sergeants major from across SMDC.

"I'm very proud of Sgt. Grayson and Spc. French," said Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Deleon of the 1st Space Battalion. "These Soldiers, along with their first line supervisors, took a long time to prepare leading up to this event. I'm very proud the event culminated here in Colorado Springs with these Soldiers demonstrating all their hard work and commitment to excellence." 

Grayson, who competed in last year's competition, said he kind of knew what to expect.

"Overall the competition was a good competition - very physically demanding, also mentally demanding," he said. "I'm just glad I was able to come out on top this time." 

Grayson said his favorite event was the obstacle course, and the most challenging event was the 12-mile ruck march. 

"It was very hilly terrain going uphill most of the time," he said.  "It was very challenging, but I'm going to continue to work on it moving forward so it's not an issue." 

Grayson also said he would recommend the competition for other Soldiers. 

"It's a great way to get out there and at least put your name out there," he said.  "At the least, you can see what you're physically and mentally about. You can represent yourself, represent the command and try to be the best Soldier you can be." 

French, who is new to the competition, said it was a great experience.
 
"Just being given the opportunity to get away from where you normally are and to meet other Soldiers in different units is a great experience," he said. "And the competition was fun.  It was nice to be able to do multiple events. It wasn't just in one lane. So it was good to have variety where it does encompass the entire total Soldier concept."

French said his favorite event was the M4/M9 qualifications, because he enjoys shooting.  And he said by far the most challenging was the 12-mile ruck march. 

"I would say it was 60 to 70 percent uphill," French said. "Not being from this elevation, it destroys you quickly."

Grayson and French will represent the command in the Headquarters Department of Army Best Warrior Competition in Fort Lee, Va., in October.

Deleon thanked the Soldiers on behalf of the brigade commander, brigade command sergeant major, battalion commander, and himself. 

"These two Soldiers have definitely exemplified the warrior ethos and those things that stand out as being a space warrior and serving in this organization," he said.

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