Virgin Islander competes to be Army's Best Warrior

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FORT LEE, Va. - Deep within the wooded confines of this military encampment, the son of a St. Croix woman has a map, compass, rifle, physical endurance and depth of tactical knowledge to propel him through the rigors of competing against the Army's top soldiers.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Reynolds, son of Margret Reynolds of William's Delight, was one of 24 soldiers selected Army wide to compete in the Best Warrior competition. The event is an annual competition in which 12 noncommissioned officers and 12 junior soldiers from the Army's 12 major commands demonstrate their proficiencies in skills critical to the success of every soldier.

Soldiers selected for the competition mastered a series of benchmarks throughout the year and won in their local command levels in order to be selected to compete for Army-wide Best Warrior competition.

Reynolds is a small group leader with the U.S. Army Medical Department NCO Academy at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He said he was honored to represent his unit at Best Warrior.

"It meant a lot, and I'm glad they had faith in me to represent them, the Army Medical Department," said Reynolds, a 1996 graduate of Central High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in 2011 from Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa.

Reynolds said his family inspires him to compete and that he will continue to compete to test himself to see how he stacks up to his peers.

Best Warrior events included a physical training test, land navigation, urban warfare simulations, Army aptitude tests and a number of tasks deemed essential for survival on the battlefield in today's operating environment, such as casualty evaluation and weapons marksmanship. Some soldiers exercised two to three hours per day, running five to eight miles, lifting weights, marching with more than 100 pounds of gear on their backs, training on their weapons at the shooting range, practicing land navigation and more to prepare for the annual competition.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Manella of Fremont, Calif., with the Army Reserve Command, won Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. Spc. Adam Christensen of Las Vegas, Nev., with U.S. Army Pacific Command, was named Soldier of the Year.

A video interview with Best Soldier competitor Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Reynolds can be viewed at 1st Class Ronnie Reynolds, MEDCOM

Assigned unit: The Army Medical Department Non-Commissioned Officers Academy

Military occupation specialty: 68W - health care specialist

Hometown: St. Croix

Years in service: 17; deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

What is your motivation to competing in this competition?

Mainly to test myself and see how I stack up when it comes to my peers.

What were your job responsibilities while deployed? Enemy prisoner of war medic, medical evacuation non-commissioned officer, medical treatment non-commissioned officer, Joint Security service medic

What is the most interesting thing about your time deployed that you want to share? Working with local nationals and learning what to say and not to.

What military awards and achievements have you received? The Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal

Why did you choose your military occupation specialty? I saw it as being cool to be a medic, so I picked that job title. I have no regrets about it.

Who or what inspires you? My family.

What are your military career goals for the future? To do my best facilitating the education of my fellow non-commissioned officers.

What was the biggest challenge along the way to get to this level of competition? To be well-rounded in everything

What are your hobbies/special interests? Fitness and mountain biking

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