Stoney Tyler, who lives in Rolla, was recently named the Missouri National Guard's 35th Engineer Brigade's Best Warrior in the Soldier category.
Stoney, who is a member of the 335th Engineer Platoon (Area Clearance), of Rolla, was presented an Army Commendation Medal for the accomplishment and recognized recently at the brigade's engineer ball at the Lodge of the Four Seasons.
To get to the brigade level, Stoney previously won the 203rd Engineer Battalion, of Joplin, Best Warrior Competition.
"It's been a really interesting experience getting to know other people outside of my unit throughout the brigade and the battalion," said Tyler, who has been in the guard more than a year. "It's really gotten me out of my comfort zone. I'm not really comfortable yet being around a bunch of brass and senior noncommissioned officers."
Tyler will now represent the brigade at the state Best Warrior Competition, scheduled for April 3-7 at Camp Crowder in Neosho.
The Best Warrior Competition is held annually at all levels and is broken down into two categories - one for Soldiers, who are specialists and below, and the other for noncommissioned officers, who are sergeants and above - within the enlisted ranks.
The competition is designed to physically and mentally challenge Guardsmen through a series of common Soldier tasks. Those tasks include the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification and assembly and disassembly; ruck marches; improvised explosive device identification; reacting to direct and indirect enemy fire; reacting to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive threat; first aid; Army Combatives; media relations; and usually concludes with a Soldier board, where contestants are interviewed on anything from Army history to current events by senior noncommissioned officers.
Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Stuenkel, the brigade command sergeant major, said Tyler was chosen because he was the points leader going into the Soldier board and once there, was not tripped up.
"We have a series of difficult questions designed by higher leadership that we go through and he flew through them pretty well," Stuenkel said. "He did a heck-of-a job reciting the Soldier's Creed, as well."
Tyler said the Soldier board was extremely challenging.
"My biggest problem was just being nervous – I was visibly sweating in there and they made a comment about it," Tyler said. "At the first level, there was stuff like the ruck march and weapons assembly and disassembly – that stuff was easy for me. But going in front of a bunch of high-ranking noncommissioned officers and answering questions and keeping my composure was difficult."
Currently a junior at Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla, Tyler is studying electrical engineering and also a member of ROTC. He was home schooled in Clarksville and graduated high school in 2010.
Page 2 of 2 - Tyler is supported in his military career by his father, Greg, and mother, Melinda, who live in Clarksville; his brother, Asa, who lives in Rolla; his sister, Abbey, who lives in Kirksville; his grandparents, James and Polly Allen, who live in Knoxville, Tenn.; and his step-grandfather, Lavon Kozel, who lives in Huron, S.D.