By Tamas Mondovics

As one of the most physically and mentally challenging contests, the 2015 Best Warrior Competition saw 26 of the Army’s finest warriors, representing 13 commands from across the Army earlier this month.

The roster included Brandon native Staff Sgt. Jacob Kasarda, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Headquarters in Belgium.

The 14th annual, four-day event—described as the “Super Bowl” of Army competitions—was held at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., designed to name the Department of the Army’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

The elite warriors, selected to compete for the two prestigious titles, have already mastered a series of benchmarks throughout the year to qualify for the Army-wide competition prior to attending.

Quoted in a story by Sgt. Brian Godette, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey spoke highly of all the warriors when he said, “I’m extremely proud of what you’re doing. I wish I could give you all the title of Best Warrior, I really do.”

The event gave Kasarda, 30, a 2003 Brandon High School graduate, along with the rest of the warriors a chance to measure up their Army aptitude by conquering a variety of challenges including urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.

“I feel a great deal of pride to be nominated and to represent my unit,” Kasarda said.

Phase I of the competition began at Fort A.P. Hill Virginia, where the contenders took a physical test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a two mile-run, a written examination on general military topics, fired weapons, demonstrated a number of critical Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, and reacted to several “mystery” events. Phase II of the competition was held in Washington, D.C. where the contender’s military appearance and bearing general Army knowledge were also tested.

While all were considered winners, the top honors went to Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink, U.S. Army Reserve Command, who was named the Army’s noncommissioned officer of the year. Spc. Jared R. Tansley, U.S. Army Europe, has been named Soldier of the Year.

“I had hoped to represent not only the Army, but my local community and my home town showing that Brandon has produced one of the finest solders,” Kasarda said. For more information, visit

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