HUBBARD - The Hubbard Police Department says it already has an outstanding officer in D.J. Dripps, but the department may soon also be home to the best warrior in Ohio.
Dripps is competing this weekend in the Ohio Army National Guard Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Best Warrior Competition in Chillicothe. The competition tests every skill demanded of a soldier, including physical endurance, marksmanship, leadership and other essential military tasks.
Dripps saw active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before joining the National Guard unit out of Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center. He said he was chosen to represent his unit because of his conditioning and history of service.
"I was informed that I was chosen for this honor in November," said Dripps, a 2007 Hubbard High School graduate. "I had the highest physical fitness scores in my unit, and coming off of active duty recently, I guess (his superiors) felt that I had a better idea of what would be expected of me in the competition."
What is expected of competitors is an extreme test of their physical and mental limits, beginning with the Army Physical Fitness Test, in which soldiers are given two-minute timed events in push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. From there, competitors transition into a live-fire range, testing their rifle and pistol marksmanship proficiency.
Then competitors in full helmet, body armor and personal protective gear have to fire their weapon, run 50 yards with a sandbag, drop to the ground and do push-ups, then carry their sandbag back to the firing line and fire again.
Aside from physical tests, competitors must excel at land navigation drills, as well as pass a 50-question general military knowledge test, and be drilled by a review board of sergeant majors who questioned them on military bearing, appearance and general military knowledge.
Hubbard police Chief James Taafe said that he was thrilled that Dripps, who was sworn in as a full-time officer with the department in August of 2013, is in the competition.
"For DJ to be chosen speaks volumes about his character and his dedication to both the military and his community," Taafe said."You won't find a more modest person who does not like to make a big deal out of his success than DJ."
Dripps remarked he was not looking to publicize his participation within the department, noting that he only informed Taafe because "I knew I was going to need to take a couple of days off of work."
And win or lose, how did Dripps say he is planning to celebrate his efforts in Chillicothe?
"I have to be back at work in Hubbard on Monday morning," Dripps said. "I'm already taking three days off, so I didn't want to mess with anyone else's schedules at the department."