Many hear the call to service, but few are willing to answer. One Bronx soldier is striving to prove that he has what it takes to be considered “Army Strong.”
Staff Sergeant Victor Munoz, 26, is a borough resident who has been serving his country for these last eight years. Born in the Dominican Republic, his family moved to New York and eventually settled down in the Bronx where he grew up since he was 4. A graduate of Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology, Munoz enlisted on July 18, 2006 explaining that he wished “to do something bigger, travel the world, and learn.”
His assigned unit is the Public Health Command Region based in Landstuhl, Germany. As a 68R-Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist, Munoz assists the public health command in Europe as well as conducts water and soil sampling in Africa and the Middle East. In addition to his services, he was awarded many distinct credentials including an Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medals, Expert Field Medic Badge, Parachutist Badge, and a Military Outstanding Achievement Volunteer Service Medal. Impressive as this resume may be, Munoz hopes to obtain one more accomplishment: winning the Army’s Best Warrior Competition.
“The ‘Best Warrior Competition’ is something most don’t know about, but it is a big deal,” Munoz explained.
Described by both Munoz and his peers as “the Army’s equivalent to the Super Bowl,” the Best Warrior Competition oversees 28 of the finest soldiers the military branch has to offer, representing 13 commands in total. The contest was held this week in Fort Lee, Virginia from Monday, October 6 until Thursday, October 9 and ran the gamut of physical and mental endurance exams such as urban warfare simulations and fitness tests, knowledge of important military subjects, written exams, warrior tasks, and battle drills relating to today’s operating conditions. To this end, a special “mystery element” was also planned to be introduced within some point of the competition to test these soldiers’ aptitude in handling unforeseen events. Selection boards made of six senior sergeant majors also evaluated each of the warriors’ appearances, military bearing, and their overall knowledge of crucial Army topics throughout.
“To be able to compete here, it makes you see where you stack up,” he said. “I look at it as another training event. I enjoy competition and seeing where I stack up among my peers.”
Privates through specialists compete for the title of “Soldier of the Year,” while corporals through sergeant first class vie for “Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.” The winner of each would have their achievement fully realized by representing the Army at special events held during their 2014 to 2015 term. Munoz hopes to achieve the honor of becoming this year’s NCO and given his track record, he has a promising chance of doing so.
“This would be my sixth competition throughout the year,” he expressed. “I’m a little nervous. I’m excited and I’m gonna do my best at each event.”
Munoz’s family currently lives in Woodlawn. Looking back fondly on his local roots, the staff sergeant shared his cherished memories of growing up in the borough.
“To be able to say that I’m from there, that’s where I grew up, that is a privilege,” he said. “When I lived on Crescent Avenue, in the summer they would always close the street and I would play football with my friends outside of the building. That’s the one thing I remember the most.”
Cheering him on from the sidelines are his sergeant major and supporting Munoz in spirit is his wife, presently deployed in Afghanistan. The competition ended this Thursday and an awards ceremony was broadcast live on the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System web site.
“I would be, if I win, the ambassador for the Army for the next 12 months,” Munoz said. “It would be a honor to represent the Army and be that face.”