By Story by Sgt. Sydney Mariette
34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade
At 6 feet 7 inches, the Spc. Griffen Vaughn stands out among his peers. Not only for his physical height, but also because of his work ethic.
“He is dedicated young Soldier with lots of promise,” said 1st Sgt. Berry Spady, first sergeant for Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 189th General Support Aviation Battalion. “He is an excellent representative of the new upcoming Soldiers in our battalion.”
Vaughn began his deployment with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 189th General Support Aviation Battalion to the Middle East with simple goals of getting more fit, expanding his knowledge about the aircraft he works on as an Aircraft Power Plant Repair Specialist (15B), and submitting his flight packet to become a pilot. However, at the end of January he was surprised to be nominated and selected to represent his unit in the Task Force Spartan Best Warrior Competition.
“He stands head and shoulders above every other competitor,” said Spady, explaining why he nominated Vaughn to compete. “And he was willing to put the extra hours in preparation to get ready for this challenge.”
With just under a month to prepare, Vaughn needed to commit every spare moment to training.
“I’ve been studying every day,” said Vaughn. “I’ll wake up at 3 a.m., go to the gym work out for an hour, then go to work and do pushups and squats throughout the day. Then I’ll do flash cards before bed.”
To prepare, Vaughn worked out two to three times a day, and spent his breaks at work studying flash cards and working with his sponsor, Sgt. Joe Cochren.
The Army Best Warrior Competition is an annual competition overseen by the Department of the Army as a means of identifying and recognizing the best Soldiers in the United States Army. In the National Guard, each state holds a Best Warrior Competition. The winners at each state go on to a regional competition and then compete nationally to represent the National Guard. The winner of the National Guard competition competes with other Army commands at the Army Best Warrior Competition. Deployed Soldiers who compete at the Task Force Spartan Best Warrior Competition winners will go directly to the Army Best Warrior Competition.
“There’s always a fun rivalry between the National Guard and active duty, so it should be fun,” said Vaughn. “I’m looking forward to meeting different people, and learning from the vast variety of knowledge they have.”
The Best Warrior Completion challenges competitors in a variety of events that best represent the warrior: marksmanship, fitness, military history, weapons functions, land navigation, and more. The Task Force Spartan Best Warrior Competition brought together 39 Soldiers from units currently deployed to Kuwait and was held February 25-28, 2020. Competitors were challenged in ten different events: written essay, obstacle course, Army warrior tasks, land navigation, written test, Army Physical Fitness Test, Engagement Skills Trainer or EST (an electronic simulated weapons qualification range), a mystery event (which ended up being the Army Combat Fitness Test), a road march and appearance boards.
Spc. Griffen Vaughn represented the 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade in the Soldier category and Sgt. Daniel Tautges in the non-commissioned officer category. Both Soldiers represented their units well in the competition, with Vaughn winning 2nd place in the land navigation event.
“It’s humbling,” said Vaughn as he reflected upon the experience. “I just like to do my job, have fun and get training in. It [was] nice to try and represent our small, large state [of Montana] and do my best to represent our National Guard battalion.”
Now that the Best Warrior Competition is complete, Vaughn is setting his sights on taking the Selection Instrument for Flight Training, or SIFT, test which will allow him to pursue his goal of becoming a pilot for the Montana National Guard.
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION