Police officer also among best soldiers in Illinois National Guard
By KEVIN BARLOW | The (Bloomington, Ill.) Pantagraph | Published: December 11, 2018
BLOOMINGTON (Tribune News Service) — As a Bloomington police officer, Hunter Clark understands that every day is a new challenge, and that one of the keys to being ready is to be in top physical condition.
Clark was named Soldier of the Year after he won the recent Best Warrior Competition for the 33rd Military Police Battalion at the Marseilles Training Center. By receiving the highest point total in the competition that included nearly 500 soldiers, Clark will compete in the Brigade Best Warrior Competition in the spring against competitors from across the state.
At least he hopes he will.
“There is a chance that National Guard duty could get in the way and be at the same time,” he said. “I hope not. I would really like to do both.”
The competition in Marseilles included a physical fitness test, a written exam and a board interview, he said.
The Best Warrior Competition pits soldiers against each other in a multitude of events designed to test their physical fitness, mental toughness and competence at “warrior skills.” The competitors were selected through platoon, company and battalion-level boards to compete.
“It is a grueling couple of days,” said Clark.
The events included two minutes of push-ups, following by two minutes of sit-ups, and then a timed 2-mile run. The soldiers also competed at weapons qualification, warrior skill tasks, land navigation and a 10-mile road march with a 40-pound rucksack.
Command Sgt. Major Sean Carney of the Illinois Army National Guard said competition is encouraged among the brigades.
“The state competition helps us find the best of the best in the Illinois Army National Guard,” he said. “Whether the competitors win or lose, competing is an honor to their efforts. All of these soldiers are the best their brigades have to offer. Win or lose, they’re contributing to the success of the Illinois Army National Guard.”
Clark says he enjoys his dual role as police officer and active member of the Illinois National Guard.
“It gives me a lot of new experiences that I wouldn’t ordinarily have,” he said.
For instance, Clark went with the National Guard Military Police Unit to Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, in September 2017 following Hurricane Maria. Clark and his unit were deployed to assist in recovery efforts after two hurricanes devastated the island. During the 30-day deployment, they handed out 45,000 cases of food and 30,000 cases of water to the citizens of Puerto Rico.
“It was unbelievable devastation and something you would never see around here,” he said.
His day job is working third-shift patrol for the BPD.
“Every night, there is something new,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy to sit behind a desk. I like being on patrol, where you can meet people and help people. You develop different types of friendships, particularly with the other officers on the shift.”
Clark was born to be a military police officer. His parents, Ken and Jane, were Desert Storm veterans. He went to Illinois State University, majoring in exercise science. He was 21 when he was hired by the Bloomington Police Department in December 2016. He is now working toward a criminal justice degree from the online American Military University.
“He is extremely dedicated to serving his community, both as a National Guard soldier, as well as a Bloomington police officer,” said fellow BPD officer, John Fermon. “He has such a positive attitude, is great to work with, is extremely friendly and has a great personality.”