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Puyallup reservist declared ‘best warrior’ at Texas Army competition

Heading into an Army “Best Warrior” contest this month, Spc. Rachel Bauer of Puyallup didn’t worry about the physical tests she knew she’d have to win against male and female peers.

She was more concerned about how she’d fare with a compass and a map in the woods.

Bauer, 23, had never been tested in land navigation in the three years she has served in the Army Reserve, so her first time would have high stakes.

Thankfully, the first time was the charm.

“I learned, and I learned really fast,” she said.

Bauer did well enough in the woods and in nine other events at a Texas range to be declared the “Best Warrior” for the 7,000 lower-enlisted soldiers who fall under a Reserve headquarters called the 80th Training Command.

It’s a tough-sounding title that will allow her to participate in larger contests this year. If she keeps succeeding, she’ll get a chance to participate in an Armywide challenge.

“I’m very honored,” she said.

The gauntlet included a timed 2-mile run, sit-ups, push-ups, marksmanship, weapons handling, an exam from a panel of sergeants major, first aid and knowledge of Army ceremonies.

Her peers told her the land navigation would be the hardest part of the competition. She couldn’t explain how she took to it so well.

“I got out there, and it all made sense,” she said.

At home in Pierce County, Bauer is studying to earn a degree in occupational therapy. She serves in an Army Reserve unit that helps soldiers train to confront chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

Bauer’s unit recommended that she take a shot at the competition.

“I basically try to do my best every day, and they saw that,” she said. “I’m a hard worker, and they suggested that I train and try out for it. I’m glad that I did.”

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