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NEWS | June 9, 2023

US Army Pacific Best Squad Competition

By Mary Andom

SCHOFIELD, Hawaii- Soldiers from across U.S. Army Pacific competed in an arduous, week-long Best Squad Competition, held here June 4-8.
Soldiers trudged through the humid, thick jungles of Oahu to test their mental, and physical endurance as highly trained, disciplined and fit cohesive teams.
Squads competed in scenarios resembling the realistic and demanding challenges faced by Soldiers in the Indo-Pacific theater.

During the competition a profound sense of camaraderie and solidarity helped push the squads to the finish line.
U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Charles A. Flynn thanked squad members for their commitment to Army values and warrior ethos.  
“Your presence here today is reflective of your professionalism and commitment to the team,” said Flynn. “I am proud to be in the same formation as you. Thank you for serving your country during a time of great danger.”
As the dust settled and the final scores were tallied, the 11th Airborne Division “Artic Angels” located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, emerged as the victorious squad of the 2023 USARPAC’s Best Squad competition.
During this year’s competition, USARPAC’s Best Noncommissioned Officer and Best Soldier were announced based on their commitment to the Army values and warrior ethos.
Staff Sgt. Derek Dion from the 11th Airborne Division won the best NCO award. His squad member, Pvt. Matthew Kirsop, was presented with USARPAC’s Best Soldier accolade.
Dion said his squad’s combined strength, resilience and unbreakable bond were paramount to their success.
“The secret sauce was how well we worked together as team,” said Dion. “We are family. At the end of the day it’s about being there for your brother to your left and the right. It wasn’t about winning, but taking care of my Soldiers.”
Each squad contained one squad leader, either sergeant first class or staff sergeant; one team leader, either a sergeant or corporal; and three squad members at the rank of specialist or below.
Under stress and extreme fatigue, the five-member teams were evaluated on their individual basic warrior skills and squad battle drills. Each squad was challenged with tactical missions assessing team building, unit cohesion and effective communication.
Soldiers competed in a multitude of physical and mental tests ranging from the Army Combat Fitness Test, weapons marksmanship and land navigation. The competition included a grueling 12-mile foot march through the muggy jungles of Oahu.
The 11th Airborne Division squad will go on to represent USARPAC in the Department of the Army's Best Squad competition this September.
The 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii took second place followed by third place winner 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
The winners from the 11th Airborne Division include Staff Sgt. Derek Dion, Sgt. Ryan Ortwein, Spc. Eric Byland, Pfc. Matthew Morris and Pvt. Matthew Kirsop.