CAMP SWIFT, Texas --
As he drove the side of his head into the wet sand, the cold pounding rain continued to make conditions worse. Forcing his face and body across the ground, he continued to dig deeper to find an inner strength to carry on the struggle beneath the razor-sharp wires and reach the end, only to anticipate his next obstacle.
Hearing his support team’s motivation from the sidelines, Tech. Sgt. Joshua Porter pushes himself to keep on track as he continues through the Texas National Guard’s 2019 Best Warrior Competition obstacle course February 27 – March 1, 2019 at Camp Swift, Texas.
The Best Warrior Competition is designed to put the competitors through demanding physical and mental tests which include a modified Army physical fitness test, an obstacle course, marksmanship drills, land navigation, formal board interviews, written exams and a mystery event.
Porter, a 136th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintainer, joined the wing in May 2018 after separating from Air Force active-duty and is now the noncommissioned officer representing the 136th Airlift Wing against some of the best Texas National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.
“When people decide to separate from active-duty service, they usually don’t expect to be competing a year later in marksmanship challenges, conducting nighttime land navigation in total darkness, running miles in combat boots with 35-pound ruck sack and racing through obstacle courses,” said Porter.
After 10 years of active-duty, he moved closer to his hometown, Mineral Wells, Texas. He made a connection with someone within the 136 AW who introduced him to the 136 LRS superintendent.
“I knew after speaking with Josh the first time, I wanted him onboard and to be a part of the LRS,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Lowe, 136 LRS superintendent, “but little did I know what kind of impact he would have on our shop. He’s the one who sets the example, he is the standard of physical fitness in our squadron. He’s an incredible motivator who inspires our Airmen to constantly work out and stay physically fit.”
Porter says he has always loved competition, especially when it comes to endurance-based sports like running. While on active duty, he was on three consecutive Air Force Marathon teams representing Whiteman Air Force Base, Miss.
“Realizing what type of athlete and competitor he was, it was a no-brainer that he would excel at our wing’s Best Warrior Competition … which he did,” said Lowe.
One week after winning the wing-level competition held last fall, Porter’s father passed away from complications of a heart procedure years earlier.
“He was one of the reason’s we decided to move back, to be closer to home,” he said. “We wanted to spend whatever time we had left with him. He was so incredibly proud of me when I told him I’d be representing the 136th at the state level.”
The inspiration and encouragement Porter received from his father throughout his life has stayed close to his heart during this competition.
“He was a man who was a strong motivator but would do it with love and encouragement,” Porter said. “He was always looking for way to build up a person with positivity and he would always get the best out of people.”
This four-day event not only features the state’s top service members, but also features competitors from Chile and the Czech Republic, partners of the Texas military, under the State Partnership Program.
“Many of the events were some of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” Porter said. “But the group of people who came from the wing to support and cheer me on have been so inspirational and motivating. The really awesome thing is they were supporting all the competitors with that same level of energy … Soldiers, Airmen and our international partners.”
Even though Porter didn’t win the Texas Best Warrior Competition NCO division, he isn’t ready to call it quits with his best warrior experiences. Porter said he would love to represent the wing a second time in next year’s competition, but he would rather not compete at all.
“I want to get the word out about this event and see who in our wing can compete at this level,” he said. “I know our wing has some amazing athletes. I would love it if someone would beat me next year and earned the spot. I would be their sponsor and help guide and advise them through every step of this unbelievably fun and demanding competition.”
This year’s Texas competition winners will be honored at a May banquet and be eligible to compete in the Best Warrior Competition at nation and international levels.