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Waianae reservist, 35, vying to become 'best warrior'


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POSTED: Friday, July 17, 2009

Last year, Waianae resident William Peiler wanted to do something to turn his life around.

So at the age of 35, he enlisted in the Army Reserve.

Fourteen months later, Peiler, a mechanic stationed at Fort Shafter, is at Fort McCoy, Wis., competing with soldiers nearly half his age in the Army Reserve's “;Best Warrior Competition.”;

Peiler, who competed against several thousand soldiers in the Pacific Army Reserve to qualify, is one of 24 finalists competing in the weeklong event, which ends today.

The top noncommissioned officer and soldier will go on to represent the Army Reserve at the Department of the Army “;Best Warrior Competition,”; which will be held Sept. 28-Oct. 2 at Fort Lee, Va.

Peiler, who moved to Waianae three years ago, said he had “;a lot of personal issues”; that were affecting his life and was looking for something that would change it.

He chose the Army Reserve because he wanted to stay in Hawaii and was trained as a power generator mechanic. He is assigned to the 335th Signal Command.

During a break in the competition on Wednesday, Peiler said he did not believe his age would work against him in the competition.

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Peiler spent the week tackling physical and mental challenges such as a timed, 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) march carrying 70 pounds of gear, completing a day-and-night land navigation course, qualifying at the rifle range under daylight and at nighttime conditions, writing a timed essay, competing in hand-to-hand combat contests—and participating in a “;mystery event.”;

Capt. Corey Schultz, Army Reserve spokeswoman, said the soldiers are not told ahead of time what military skills will be tested during the “;mystery event.”;

Peiler said he did not find the physical tasks intimidating.

“;It was appearing before a panel of five sergeants major that was toughest,”; he said. “;Basically you are in the hot seat. You are asked about Army customs, courtesies and regulations.”;