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Women's History Month Spotlight: Spc. Julie E. Keppner

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Spc. Julie E. Keppner

Lone female competitor places in Best Warrior 

Story and photos by Spc. Taylor Whitaker
122nd Public Affairs Operations Center

Spc. Julie E. Keppner was a standout competitor in the Washington National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition this year. Not only for her exceptional performance in all events, but because Keppner — a truck driver with the 1041st Transportation Company — was the only female to compete.


During the four-day competition, held March 3-6 at Camp Murray, Wash., the elite contenders tested their Army aptitude by conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.  Keppner was selected by her unit to compete because of her ambition for success and physical perseverance.

 “Spc. Keppner is a driven soldier,” said Staff Sgt. Virginia L. Adolfson, Keppner’s sponsor/mentor throughout the competition. “Her focus and strength is an inspiration to her fellow soldiers, and the best warrior is a perfect way to show that.”


This was not the first time Keppner had been selected to compete among the best. Last year she voluntarily withdrew from Officer Candidate School (OCS) after being recommended for Ranger School—considered the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer. She wasn’t able to attend the class due to space limitations, but that hasn’t dampened her competitive spirit and desire to lead.

Keppner hopes to take the lessons she learned from the best warrior to help understand and inspire other soldiers as she prepares to begin OCS again in the spring.

“I wanted to compete in the Best Warrior Competition prior to going back to OCS [so] I would be able to relate better to all my future soldiers,” Keppner said.


Keppner finished the competition with the highest physical fitness score, the highest oral board score and placed second overall in the competition. She finished with many unforgettable memories as well.

“Even though we were competitors, I feel like we were all comrades in the competition. It really brought us together and I’m happy that I could participate.”

As the enlisted runner-up, Keppner is on standby to represent Washington in the regional competition if the winner is not able to.

2016 Washington National Guard Best Warrior Competition Winners

Enlisted winner:
Spc. Colin Shaw
Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment

Non-commissioned officer winner:
Sgt. Jordan Stone
Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment