NY National Guard Sgt. Mitchell Stogel, a White Plains resident, wins Best Warrior Competition

College student and Afghan war veteran will compete in regional event at Fort Dix at the end of April

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Sgt. Mitchell Stogel, a White Plains resident, completing the 12 mile forced march portion of the New York National Guard Best Warrior competition on April 2 at Camp Smith Training Site .

LATHAM, NY (04/06/2017) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Sgt. Mitchell Stogel, a college student from White Plains and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is one of two victors in the New York National Guard's annual Best Warrior Competition.

Stogel, a member of Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, which is based at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York, was named winner in the non-commissioned officer category of the competition.

Non-commissioned officers are the sergeants who provide enlisted leadership directly to Soldiers.

The four-day event tests Soldiers' physical fitness, marksmanship, mastery of Soldier tasks, and military knowledge. The event climaxes with a twelve-mile forced march in which the Soldiers wear full field gear and carry a 35-pound load and an M-4 carbine.

Winners must finish in under three hours. Stogel beat that time by 20 minutes.

Another key event is the stress shooting competition in which the Soldiers fire the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a light machine gun, the M-4 carbine, and the M-9 pistol in between physical tasks. These include running with a five-gallon jug of water, donning a gas mask, and dragging a simulated casualty.

"The competition is tough and demanding," said New York Army National Guard State Command Sgt. Major David Piwowarski, who directed the competition. "It's designed to test Soldiers physically and mentally."

Nine Soldiers participated in the competition.

Stogel and the winner in the enlisted category - Sgt. Mitchell Cooper, a Camillus resident, will compete against National Guard Soldiers from other northeast states at Fort Dix, New Jersey, April 24 to 28.

The winners at that event will compete against other Army National Guard Soldiers from around the country. Eventually, the top competitors from the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and the Active Army will compete for the title of best Soldier in the entire Army.

Stogel is now a four-time winner, Piwowarski said. The process of winning New York's Best Warrior accolade starts at the company level and moves up through battalion to brigade and then culminates with the statewide event, he explained.

"It takes a Soldier who is well rounded and who can compete in different skills," he said. "The keys are physical fitness, mental agility, and a lot of endurance."

Stogel, a 27-year old infantryman, has served in the New York Army National Guard for six years.

"The competition pushes you to your limits, everyone wants to win and that attitude is contagious," Stogel said.

Stogel is currently pursuing a degree in architecture at New York Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a general contractor.

While deployed to Afghanistan, he served as a member of the Security Force Assist and Advisory Team, and worked alongside the Afghan Civil Order Police in Ghazni Province.

His military awards include the Afghan Campaign Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal and the NATO Medal.