Montana National Guard awards two members as the 'Best Warriors'

Spring receiving his award
Posted at 8:25 PM, Apr 14, 2024

HELENA — The Montana National Guard held its Best Warrior Competition this week, where its members go against one another to test their physical and mental capacity.

Anyone in the Montana National Guard can compete, and they come to Fort Harrison from across Montana.

Montana National Guard members

"This highlights what we have to go through to defend and deter those peers out there. To know that we're there, and it shows them the skills that we have to give them the confidence so that they can go normally about their day of life," said Adjutant General of Montana National Guard, Maj. Gen. Pete Hronek.

Fifteen Montana National Guard members competed this year in over 25 events, testing their physical and mental strength.

13 of the 15 competitors being awarded

These events included inventory checks, target shooting, using equipment like radios correctly, and written tests.

Quinton Spring, 22, from Great Falls has been a firefighter in the Air National Guard for three years and can now claim the title of "Best Warrior Soldier."

Grunhurd and Spring with their awards

He said, "It was a surprise, but I'm very humbled and honored. I don't get to do a lot of this stuff on the air side. So, it was a lot of trying to figure everything out as I went."

Spring had to navigate some events he wasn't exactly familiar with as a National Guard Airman.

He said he does not do land navigation or use some of the weapons that the Army National Guard does.

Machine gun

"At least for me, I need to put myself in situations where I'm uncomfortable to grow as a person and an airman. So, put yourself in those situations and just do it," said Spring.

Sgt. Hunter Grunhurd is a 28-year-old police officer from Livingston.

He joined the Army National Guard four years ago and won "Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer."

Grunhurd said, "It's a lot of stress. It's been a long week. Not a lot of sleep; you're kind of going from event to event. You don't know what's coming up."

Soldier working on machine gun

Both Spring and Grunhurd said they found the Norwegian Ruck March the most challenging.

It started around midnight, and the soldiers and airmen marched 18.6 miles while loaded down with equipment.

"At mile 15, you start to go to a dark place. So, you got to learn about yourself and push yourself a little bit," said Spring.

Spring cannot compete in the regional Best Warrior Competition since it is only for Army National Guard members.

Target shooting

Instead, he earned a free army course.

Grunherd will be competing in regionals next month in Washington state.

He said, "I'm excited to see how I stand up to some of the other states in our region."