104th defenders take on Massachusetts Best Warrior Competition
By Airman 1st Class Randall Burlingame, 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 04, 2018
WESTFIELD, Mass. (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 104th Security Forces Squadron participated in the Massachusetts Best Warrior Competition April 6 and 7, 2018, at Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Staff Sgt. Aaron Wolfgang, 104th SFS police officer and Senior Airman David Montanez Jr., 104th SFS specialist, competed in the event. Master Sgt. Casey Walsh and Staff Sgt. Michael Patnaude, 104th SFS craftsmen, mentored the competitors.
The 104th SFS defenders possess a unique skill set that falls in line with many of the events they were tested on during the competition. The time the Airmen put into honing those skills and the experience of executing tasks under pressure during the two-day competition has helped to increase their job proficiency and their resilience.
"The mental battle of it," said Montanez. "To me, it's just a metaphor for life. Have you ever had a large accomplishment you want? Sometimes people see that large picture and say, 'this is scary.' They'll convince themselves, 'Alright, leave that alone. It's not going to happen.' Taking a large accomplishment and slicing it into pieces, that's what makes it. Just keep chipping away at it."
Patnaude said that he has found personal growth through previously competing and that he saw the same occurring with Montanez during the competition.
"Practice makes better, and competition builds resilience," said Patnaude. "Previous competition has exposed my weaknesses, and I've been able to identify and build upon them. That very reason is why I was selected to attend as a mentor, and I believe Senior Airman Montanez experienced some of the very same things I did."
According to Wolfgang, there were at least eight events the Airmen and Soldiers were evaluated on, many of which included skills that were directly transferable to being a 104th FW defender. Some of these events include weapons assembly and a stress fire, which Wolfgang said was also the scenario he had the most fun doing.
"There was a tactical scenario where we were in a Mobile Operations Urban Terrain village," said Wolfgang. "We had to run through the village taking out potential threats and targets. Eventually, we wound up at a wounded person and had to drag them to a certain point. So it was kind of like a race, but it was shoot and run. We had to hit the targets. That was exciting."
Montanez also thinks the competition helped him as a defender, especially in regards to skills they use in a deployed environment. He said the experience helped his confidence with some of those skills including land navigation, shooting, first-aid, and chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological procedures.
Wolfgang said the majority of competitors are Soldiers and that he and Montanez were the only two Airmen.
It's interesting interacting with Army personnel," said Wolfgang. "They're pretty awesome. It's interesting to see the different ways they tackle scenarios and situations."
Both Montanez and Wolfgang said they hope to see more Air National Guard Airmen compete in the future, no matter what their Air Force Specialty Code is.
"I think if you have a strong mindset and the ability to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive, you'll do fine," said Montanez. "You'll do great."
Montanez and Wolfgang have set a goal for themselves. The two Airmen hope to win the regional competition the next time they enter.
"I was able to gauge what I need to work on for the next time I enter the competition," said Montanez. "It was a very eye-opening experience. I'm 100% positive I can win."
Wolfgang recalled Montanez's attitude and mindset after they completed the weekend's challenges. He said Montanez was very motivated and had already begun to set his goals toward doing better and winning next time they compete.
"I believe you can," said Wolfgang. "And I can mentor you."