As a sergeant in the Idaho Army National Guard, Anthony Peterson is used to spending a weekend working as a soldier, away from his everyday life in Benewah County. That’s the job.
But when he suited up in his Army uniform about two weeks ago, he wasn’t going to train or drill with his unit--it was time for a contest.
The Idaho National Guard held its annual Best Warrior competition in Boise Nov. 6-7, featuring top soldiers from units around the state, and Peterson placed second. Peterson serves in the B Company of the 145th Brigade Support Battalion, based in Post Falls, and was asked by his unit to represent them in the competition.
“I was hesitant,” he said. “I’d be going up against the best soldiers in the state of Idaho. For my platoon sergeant and my company to believe in me and think I fit into that category, that was very heartfelt. It was very cool, but I definitely didn’t think I would do very well at all, going up against these other soldiers.”
But he did, as first runner up in the non-commissioned officer category. The soldiers competed in several events over the weekend at Gowen Field in Boise, the base of the 124th Fighter Wing. Those events included an Army Combat Fitness Test, an eight-mile ruck march (a race with a heavy pack of gear), vehicle maintenance and radio communication exercises, a uniform inspection, a written essay, land navigation, and several weapons events. Staff Sgt. Austin Clark won the event in the non-commissioned officer category and will compete in the regional Best Warrior competition.
“It was a busy, busy, busy weekend,” Peterson said. “Mostly, it was just basic things you learn how to do as a soldier, but remembering how to do it was the trickâ€¦when they called me up and said I’d gotten second place, I just about croaked.”
Peterson’s best work was with the weaponry; he was given a bucket filled with parts of an M240 machine gun, a .50 caliber machine gun, an M9 pistol and an M4 rifle and put them all together in just under eight minutes.
He credits his time as a weapons instructor with giving him the skills to do so well. After enlisting in the military in 2014 as a cavalry scout, Peterson trained in tank operations and later transferred to working as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, in addition to other trainings and projects like the weapons instruction. He is also part of the Honor Guard, recognizing veterans at funerals.
That work seems like it would be enough to keep him busy, but serving in the military is only a part of what Peterson does. When not with the National Guard, he is a Benewah County Sheriff’s Deputy.
“I’m proud of him for what he accomplished,” said Sheriff Tony Eells. “I appreciate what he does for the county, the state and the nation.”
“We’re all really proud of him,” Undersheriff Tyler Morris added. “He did a great job.”
When Peterson’s platoon sergeant first asked him to participate in the Best Warrior event, Peterson said no, because he wanted to be available for law enforcement. Even when he eventually agreed and made the time, he didn’t expect to do as well as he did.
But, he said, even better than his individual success was the opportunity to spend time with the larger military community. Several units helped run the event, and generals and other commanders were around to cheer the soldiers on.
“It was something else, even just meeting these people, soldiers I’ve never worked with,” he said “What started out as a good competition turned into friendships that are going to last forever. For people wanting to do it, it’s hard work, it’s a lot of effort, but serving is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s huge for me to see, to look back and say I did it. I accomplished something.”