By Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 26, 2023) — The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School announced the winners of the Best CBRN Warrior Competition on Friday during an awards ceremony at Baker Theater.
This year’s winners were 1st Lt. Connor Macky and Staff Sgt. Joseph Feola, with the 95th CBRN Company at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Runners up included 1st Lt. Mike Duncan and Pfc. Austin Rodgers, with the 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. In third place were Sgt. 1st Class Sean Van Sice and Pfc. Diondre Marshall, with the 61st CBRN Company at Camp Humphreys, South Korea.
The three-day competition — which began on April 17, with 27 two-person teams — tested CBRN service members on technical and tactical tasks, ranging from land navigation and expert Soldier skills, to written exams and site characterization and decontamination techniques. In total, 59 tasks were graded and 25 teams made it to the finish.
Speaking at the ceremony was USACBRNS Commandant, Brig. Gen. Sean Crockett, who said the competition is “purpose built” to ensure CBRN Soldiers have all the skills necessary to perform maneuver support.
“In order to properly support maneuver, we have to understand it first,” Crockett said. “So, the skills that we’ve got here, and the skills that we develop is that fine balance between warrior and technician. Finding that sweet spot is what we intend to do with this event. I am proud of each and every one of you. You are the best and brightest that our regiment has to offer.”
While all of the teams have a Fort Leonard Wood connection, via the CBRN Regiment, four of the teams were made up of service members stationed here — including an Air Force and Marine Corps team — and the third-place team brought together a former Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant and one of the trainees from his company, both now stationed together in Korea.
In the summer of 2022, Van Sice was finishing his time as a drill sergeant here, when Marshall was assigned to the company as a trainee. At 28 years old, Marshall was older than most of the other trainees in the unit, and Van Sice said he noted the trainee’s ability to lead.
“I did not see another trainee come through, who immediately made an impact on me as a cadre member,” Van Sice recalled. “He was a charismatic leader for his peers — always a really constructive leader — and I thought, ‘This guy is going to go places.’”
Fast forward five months later, and Van Sice was stationed in Korea, when he saw Marshall’s name on a list of incoming Soldiers to the unit.
“I told my first sergeant, ‘He’s coming to my platoon. I don’t care what I have to do,’” Van Sice said. “It’s been almost a year that we’ve known each other now, and I could not ask for a better Soldier in the platoon.”
Marshall said Van Sice held a try out to find a teammate for this competition.
“It seemed like a really good opportunity,” Marshall said. “I didn’t see a whole lot of the junior enlisted reaching for it, and I feel like it’s because they felt like they didn’t qualify. But, if I can come out here and get third place and learn as much as I did, I feel like it’s a really good example for any CBRN Soldier to test their grit and also walk away with a little information.”
Feola, from the winning team, agreed. He said getting junior enlisted Soldiers interested in competitions like this is very important.
“They’re the ones who are ultimately going to be bringing this back to their peers, their battle buddies,” he said. “Everybody learns something — I learned something, I’m sure Lt. Macky learned something — and they can always pick something up, whether you come in first or 27th place.”
Macky added Soldiers can sometimes feel like they are in a bubble at their first assignment.
“Especially in Alaska,” he said. “So, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where our piece fits into the bigger puzzle. Them competing and seeing all the options available, all the duty stations, all the cool, high-speed units they can be a part of — I just think that’s the coolest part of this.”
Both Feola and Macky have previously competed in the Best CBRN Warrior Competition — Feola, in 2018, and Macky last year. They both said flexibility is key to competing well.
“You have to be able to adjust on the fly, shake things off,” Macky said.
“Focus on your 20-meter target,” Feola added.
More photos from the competition are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission