BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They may all fight for the same team, but this week they’ll go head-to-head for some friendly competition.

National guardsmen from surrounding states will be in Maryland the next few days to find out who is the best soldier in the region.

Before they can earn the title of Soldier or Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, they must first make it past the regional competition.

“What we’re trying to do is find the Army’s best warrior,” Command Sergeant Major David Harry with the Maryland National Guard said.

They do that by running them through a series of challenges, such as a stress shoot to get their heart rate up before testing their accuracy, and navigating an obstacle course.

With D.C. and West Virginia unable to attend due to COVID-19, four states — Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Maryland — each sent one soldier and one non-commissioned officer to compete.

Staff Sergeant Trevor Howard is from just outside Pittsburgh.

“It keeps me so I’m not complacent. It puts me in a spot where I’m always trying to get better, trying to push myself,” Howard said.

Sergeant Brian Murphy is representing Maryland. 

“It is seriously a privilege to be competing against some of the region’s best warriors in their respective states,” Murphy said.

Many of these soldiers, like Sgt. Murphy, have balanced training while being activated during the pandemic.

“It’s our mission in the guard to serve and protect the people in their property. I was happy that I was able to do that during COVID and train for this competition as much as I could,” Murphy said.

The top NCO and top soldier from the regional competition will head on to nationals, with the hopes of earning the opportunity to compete against the winners from other army commands.

“We can’t forget who we are and what we do, we’re the army and we compete to be the best, the best in the world,” Harry said.

This is the first time Maryland is hosting the regional competition. It will be held at a number of sites, including Fort McHenry and Antietam.

Sean Streicher

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