JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
Twelve Airmen battled it out in a showdown of strength, grit and determination during the third annual Air Force Alpha Warrior Final Battle, Sept. 12, at Retama Park, Selma, Texas.
After racing through 32 obstacles and fitness tests that included climbing, pull-ups, gymnastic rings, running, jumping, and weight-lifting challenges, Capt. Noah Palicia, from Yokota Air Base, Japan, and 2nd Lt. Arielle Miller, Edwards Air Force Base, California, posted the fastest times to earn first place.
The fastest three male and female finishers will represent the Air Force against Army and Navy teams in the second annual Inter-Service Alpha Warrior Battle, Sept. 14.
Men: Capt. Noah Palicia, Yokota AB, Japan: 18:39
Women: 2nd Lt. Arielle Miller, Edwards AFB, California: 22:39
Men: 2nd Lt. Rhett Spongberg, Laughlin AFB, Texas: 21:32
Women: 2nd Lt. Michelle Strickland, Columbus AFB, Mississippi: 23:42
Men: Staff Sgt. Seth Golloway, Hurlburt Field, Florida: 24:45
Women: 2nd Lt. MaryCaitlin Dominguez, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia: 26:23
The event was an opportunity to showcase the Air Force's "ultimate warriors" and the Airmen's commitment to total health, said Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander and host for the event.
“Today’s about (the competitors) and ultimate fitness. You can’t come out here just being a runner; you can’t come out here just being a weightlifter and succeed," he said "It’s all about the core, muscular fitness and nutrition. It’s the ultimate warrior who can come out here, think through it, put it all together, all those pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness - spiritual, mental, social and physical. That makes us the best military in the world."
Miller echoed the general's comments, saying she was happy for the opportunity to compete with her peers and demonstrate those CAF pillars.
"Being here with my fellow Airmen who are like minded — same goals, same drive, same passion on the same level — it’s been wonderful," she said. "To make these connections to be able to compete with them, motivate each other and just be able to say ‘hey, here’s this obstacle, we’re overcoming it together,’ it’s amazing."
For Palicia, a two-time champion, this year was a lot more challenging than last year.
"This year has been a lot more challenging … a very strenuous qualification process to get here. The people who are here are very, very good athletes. So it was always in the back of my mind today to just keep pushing, because they are right behind me," he said. "And the course — don’t even get me started — it was the most difficult thing you could do, hands down."
Launched by the Air Force Services Center in 2017, the Air Force Alpha Warrior program has delivered and installed state-of-the-art fitness apparatus called battle rigs and stations at more than 70 Air Force installations. The multi-station devices strengthen functional fitness, promote ready and resilient Airmen and families, and build morale and camaraderie as units exercise together and encourage each other to complete fitness challenges.
Airmen aren’t just running or lifting weights; they’re building on their overall fitness to become more resilient and fit to fight, Wilcox said.
"No matter what, we’re the best Army, we’re the best Navy and we’re the best Air Force. We’re unmatched because of you," he said.
The final battle was the culmination of smaller Air Force installation, regional and super regional competitions that began in May. Airmen with the overall fastest times at the super regional events — six men and six women — advanced to today’s larger, more difficult final battle.
With the program in its third year, this year's crop of athletes was impressive, said Jim Anderson, AFSVC recreation and business branch chief and Alpha Warrior program manager.
"Without a doubt, this year’s athletes are primed. Any one of these athletes could blow away this course," he said.
Later in the day, Army and Navy athletes competed for a spot on their services’ teams for inter-service championship Sept.14. The Air Force team won last year’s inaugural event but organizers expect competition to be fierce.
"The Army and the Navy are little more prepared this year so it is going to be a tight race," Anderson said.
Visit the Air Force Alpha Warrior program's website for more information.