Brother—and Sgt. William “Cole” Lukens (Kappa-Iota, Middle Tennessee State University ‘18) is bringing a different form of honor to the Order. Brother Lukens recently won the 2021 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Navajo, Arizona. Lukens was one of thirteen finalists who represented the best National Guard Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers in the nation.

Camp Navajo, a facility under the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, rests in Bellemont, AZ, with a comfy 7,000-foot elevation for Brother Lukens to prepare for, doing an approximate thirty-three mile hike with a fifty-five pound pack on his back between 2pm and 1am—resting only before the final ten miles.

This four-day test is broken into several parts, beginning with the Army Combat Fitness Test, and a helicopter flight into the desert. The next event, land navigation, detailed finding 5 points, and timed “warrior tasks” which entail everything from radio checks to first aid with mile long runs in-between. Other events included assembling weaponry while blindfolded and strained swimming in uniform. Brother Lukens took second in the swimming events, vowing to train harder for the following competitions.

The final events of the competition included more field exercises and an essay contest followed by their drill and ceremony knowledge. It was the evening following the final exams that Brother Lukens won the Meritorious Service Medal and Soldier of the Year trophy, defining him as the “best of the best” for soldiers. Lukens will follow this victory by competing in the U.S. Army’s Best Warrior competition. In addition, Lukens is the Grand Master of his chapter while employed full-time with the Guard in Smyrna. He’s currently keeping his options open for the future but interested in becoming a drill sergeant.

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