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Mitchell completes Best Warrior competition

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Army Reserve Sgt. Anthony Mitchell said he reads Sun Tzu's 13-chapter lecture, "Art of War," regularly to gain insight on approaching his military career, and life in general.

"I like to learn things, and then apply that knowledge," said Mitchell, 39.

The Chicago native, now living in McDonough, applied his military knowledge during the 2010 Army Reserve Best Warrior competition, held July 25-30, at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Mitchell joined 29 others from a total force of more than 206,000 soldiers worldwide to compete in the annual competition, which pits soldiers against multiple physical and mental challenges that test their skills, knowledge and endurance, according to Sgt. Maj. Troy Falardeau, public affairs officer with Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson.

Falardeau said the sergeant was able to qualify for Best Warrior, as a Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) for the 3rd Medical Deployment Support Command at Fort Gillem, Ga., with a victory at the brigade level competition.

Mitchell's Army Reserve competitors -- also known as "citizen-soldiers" -- are from various military career fields, and range in age, from 19 to 43. Falardeau added that many of them have been deployed overseas, and have been decorated in combat with Bronze Star Medals and Combat Action Badges.

The competition included participation in testing drills which involved quizzes, fitness tests, a written essay, rifle marksmanship, day-and-night land navigation, and a 10K road march.

Falardeau noted that Mitchell won in his rank and weight class for the Modern Army Combatives tournament, a grappling contest which uses martial arts skills to protect soldiers on the battlefield.

Mitchell said he is an amateur mixed-martial artist, who holds black belts in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Hapkido. "I've studied different forms of martial arts with my father," he added. He said he became interested in martial arts as a youth, watching his karate-instructor father, also named Anthony Mitchell.

In the Best Warrior Competition, the younger Mitchell -- and his competitors -- were eventually bested by two others in the Army Reserve's medical support field -- an NCO and a soldier.

This year's 2010 Army Reserve Command Best Warriors were: Army Reserve Sgt. David Rider, B company, 256th Support Hospital in Twinsburg, Ohio; and Army Reserve Spc. Joshua McDowell, of the 7246th Installation Medical Support Unit in Omaha, Neb., according to Sgt. Maj. Falardeau.

Rider took home the title of 2010 Best Warrior for Army Reserve NCO, and NCO of the Year, and his runner-up is Staff Sgt. Matthew Fries, of Cornell NCO Academy at Fort McCoy, Wis.

McDowell was named the 2010 Best Warrior for Army Reserve Soldier, and Soldier of the Year, and his runner-up is Spc. Robert Busch, 979th Engineer Company, Lexington, Ky.

Falardeau said Rider and McDowell will represent their fellow citizen-soldiers at the Department of the Army's worldwide competition this October at Fort Lee, Va. They will compete in a field of 12 NCOs and 12 soldiers representing the Army Reserve, active duty Army command, and the National Guard.

"I enjoyed the experience; it was invaluable" Mitchell said. "I'm glad I did it, and I'm looking forward to doing it next year -- everybody has to lookout next year."

The third-generation soldier said his father served in the Army in the 1980s. He said both his grandfathers served in conflicts during the 1940s and 1950s. Mitchell said his venture to compete for the title of "Best Warrior" is the next step for him in learning more about life and the military.

"The more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn," he said. "The more I know, the more I realize I don't know."

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States spurred Mitchell to serve. He said he was moved by patriotism, as were his father and grandfathers, to enlist in the Army. He began his active-duty service in the Army, by serving five years at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. So far, he has served two-and-a-half years as an Army Reservist, he said.

Mitchell worked as a pharmacy technician for CVS Pharmacy in McDonough, before his June 28, mobilization at Fort Gillem. Although his occupational specialty is public affairs in broadcast journalism, he currently serves on a security detail at Fort Gillem.

"It's been great," he said. "It's military service, and all of it isn't wine and roses, but ... overall, I'm glad I did it, and would do it all over again."