Nevada soldiers with Fallon ties recognized at Reno Aces Military Appreciation Night |

Nevada soldiers with Fallon ties recognized at Reno Aces Military Appreciation Night

Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka
Joint Force Headquarters
The Reno Aces honored Staff Sgt. Craig Kenison, left, and Spc. Rijhun (“RJ”) Alexander Rimon at Saturday’s Military Appreciation Night. Both soldiers have ties to the 609th Engineer Company in Fallon.
Steve Ranson / LVN

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Nevada Army Guard continued to add to its collection of Region VII Best Warrior Competition hardware when Staff Sgt. Craig Kenison of the 92nd Civil Support Team was recently named the runner-up in the Non-commissioned Officer category.

His second-place finish came one year after Sgt. Oswald Sanchez and Spc. Grant Reimers swept the 2017 Region VII contest in California.

Spc. Rijhun (“RJ”) Alexander Rimon of the 609th Engineer Company in Fallon was the Nevada Guard’s entry in the Soldier division. Although he was close to first in several events, he was not named among the top-2 finishers. Only the top two in each category of the week-long contest were announced at the closing awards ceremony held at the New Mexico Military Museum.

The Reno Aces recognized both soldiers at Saturday’s Military Appreciation Night, Kenison for being Nevada’s NCO of the Year and Rimon as the state’s Soldier of the Year.

“Overall, I’m proud of my place and satisfied,” said Kenison, 32, a survey team leader on the civil support team headquartered in Carson City. “In hindsight, it’s easy to be critical of many of my simple mistakes and flaws.

“It is a very difficult event to prepare for because there is so much to learn and practice. It’s a true test of the dedication of a Soldier because it’s difficult to balance work, family and the preparation needed before a Best Warrior competition.”

To recognize his achievement, Kenison received the Army Achievement Medal from Mew Mexico Army Guard state Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Garcia.

Prior to being assigned to the 92nd CST, Kenison spent almost nine years with the 609th Engineer Company in several roles.

Kenison and Rimon had qualified for the regional contest after winning the state’s Best Warrior competition in Reno in April. They advanced to compete against 13 other Soldiers and NCOs from seven states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah – and the territory of Guam.

Sgt. Robert Sheetz of the Colorado Army Guard beat out Kenison for the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year title; Spc. Eric Armijo of the Utah Army Guard was the Soldier of the Year. Those two will represent Region VII at the National Guard Best Warrior contest this summer. Kenison is the first alternate if Sheetz cannot attend.

Soldiers arrived in New Mexico at the Oñate Military Complex in May and were quickly – and literally – immersed in a variety of tasks, including water combat survival skills testing. In the aquatic testing, competitors swam while holding a rubber rifle above of the water for more than 10 minutes while in full uniform.

After the aquatic challenges, the Soldiers returned to terra firma and began contesting Warrior tasks. The tasks included: setting up global positioning systems, completing realistic medical practice lanes, setting up radios, performing preventive maintenance checks and services on military equipment, and testing of basic soldiering knowledge.

The Soldiers awoke early the next day to take the Army Physical Fitness Test and complete the grueling “Warrior Challenge,” a 2-mile obstacle course around the perimeter of the Oñate Complex. On the course, the athletes flipped heavy tires, dragged a 160-pound chain through the sand, dragged a loaded evacuation litter, carried full water canisters, climbed ropes, and crawled underneath wire.

On the third day, the competitors completed a land navigation course and moved to the Whittington National Rifle Association Center where they zeroed weapons and prepared for marksmanship events.

The next day, the Soldiers’ marksmanship was tested on M16A2 rifles and Beretta M9 pistols. They also participated in a special New Mexico Army Guard event, the “Chili Pepper Shoot” that entailed a timed 1200-meter course in which competitors fired pistols, 12-gauge shotguns and rifles. An 11-mile ruck march began immediately following the Chili Pepper Shoot and Night land navigation was contested back in Santa Fe that same evening.

The final day of the event included on-camera interviews, written exams and board appearances before the winners were revealed.