Former Morris Community High School linebacker Devin Singer is competing again, this time for the Army Reserve.
Specialist Singer is currently competing in the seventh annual Best Warrior Competition in Fort McCoy, Wis., where two winners will be selected as the Army Reserve’s Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer of the year to compete against winners from the major Army commands in October.
About 52 Soldiers from the 200,000-strong Army Reserve will be selected to compete at Fort Lee, Va., in the fall.
Singer left Morris in 2009 as a junior in high school, after attending Morris schools since grade school. He moved to Texas, where he graduated early and enlisted. He serves as a cook with the U.S. Army Reserve 79th Sustainment Support Command and was chosen to represent his unit in the Best Warrior Competition.
He has been competing since January to make it to this week’s competition, which ends Friday. There were battalion, brigade, division and major command competitions, before one representative from each major command was chosen to compete this week.
“It is the best of the best in the Army Reserves. It’s a grueling selection process to pick and choose who is going to come here,” said Singer Wednesday morning.
The soldiers spend the week facing numerous different challenges, some they are aware of and others that are a surprise.
They take the Army Physical Fitness Test, consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a two mile-run; complete a written examination on general military topics; fire M-4 rifles; negotiate an Urban Orienteering Course; and prove themselves in other tests of skill, such as hand-to-hand combat, first aid, and various mystery events, according to a press release from the U.S. Army Reserve Command.
Those who compete come from a variety of different military backgrounds.
Mid-Wednesday morning, Singer, who will soon be promoted to sergeant, said he had just completed a 6 1/2-mile march wearing a helmet, equipment and sack. He had a short break before taking on his next competition.
“I came here to do my best. It’s been going well . . . you just have to do your best in each event and, at the end, it’s kind of a mystery on who the winner is,” he said.
The competitors will not find out their personal scores or who did the best until Friday.
They work 22 hours a day running on just a couple hours of sleep to prove they are the best, he said.
The soldiers have done exercises such as searching a vehicle using procedures for a combat zone, programming radios, and working night navigation courses in the pouring rain.
“It’s great, the discipline and the leadership skills they give to you and just the ability to adapt to any event or any situation,” said Singer. “Things happen you aren’t ready for, you have to be able to adjust, react and overcome it.”
Singer still has family in the area, including Coal City and Joliet. Whenever he gets a chance, he comes back to Morris to visit his former town and friends that are still here.
“Morris will always hold a special place in my heart,” he said. “I spent a lot of time there. It’s a great community.”
Singer is cousins with Cpl. Joe Singer, the Diamond Marine who was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade while serving in Afghanistan. He said his cousin is recovering well.
Singer is one semester away from completing his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, with a minor in math and science.