Douglas County Gold Star family member garners Nevada Army Guard Soldier of the Year title
Nevada’s Best Warrior now set for competition in
Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka
RENO – Motivated by memories of family members
who never made it home, Douglas High graduate and Gold Star Family member Spc.
Jake Evans came home from the Nevada Army Guard’s Best Warrior Contest as the
state’s 2023 Soldier of the Year.
Evans, 25, a critical care flight
paramedic with the 2/238th Aviation unit based in Reno, earned the title of
Soldier of the Year in early April after he outlasted an international field to
win in the Nevada Guard’s Best Warrior contest held at the Hawthorne Army Depot.
The Best Warrior contest is a military multi-event competition that tests a
Soldier’s fitness, marksmanship and military knowledge. This year’s Best
Warrior contest included servicemembers from Fiji and Tonga; those two
countries are teamed with Nevada in the National Guard’s State Partnership
With the win, Evans, who now resides in
Reno, earned a trip to Hawaii to compete in the Region VII Best Warrior contest
May 5-12. The Nevada Guard’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Staff Sgt.
Alec Canepa-Teal, will also travel to Oahu for the competition. At the regional
contest, Evans will compete against Soldiers from Hawaii, Guam, California,
Utah, Arizona and Colorado
Evans, who graduated as Douglas High’s
Senior-Scholar Athlete in 2016, hails from one of the most visible Gold Star
families in Douglas County. A Gold Star family is one that has suffered the
loss of a family member during war.
Evans’ grandfather, Norman, and great
uncle, David Lynn, were both killed in Vietnam and his uncle David L. (son of
Norman) died in 2011 from injuries suffered in Iraq. The sacrifice of the Evans
family is recognized by the state of Oregon with Fallen Hero Memorial Highway
signs for the three on Highway 39 (The Crater Lake Highway) in the vicinity of Klamath
Evans’ father is Jeff Evans, who was the
Douglas High athletic director and dean of students from 2005-2017. The senior
Evans is an ardent supporter of Honor Flight Nevada and has volunteered to
support Veterans on two trips to Washington, D.C., to assist Veterans as they
visit memorials dedicated to their eras of service.
“There is a legacy of military service in
my family that I want to continue,” Evans said. “The thoughts about my family
members who couldn’t finish out their military careers spurred my efforts.”
Jake Evans said his family history even
helped him decide upon his military occupation. As a critical care flight
paramedic with the 2/238th, Evans is among the first to reach injured
servicemembers on the battlefield. He’s trained to be lowered to the ground and
subsequently raised with casualties via the unit’s Black Hawk helicopter hoist
systems. He then provides immediate medical care to casualties as they are
transported via the medical evacuation helicopters to field hospitals.
“I opted to become a flight medic to help
other families avoid becoming a ‘Gold Star’ family,” Evans said. “Becoming a
flight medic is the best way for me to support that goal.”
Although born in Las Vegas, Evans spent
the majority of his youth in Minden. At Douglas High, he participated in
basketball, football, track and field, and cross country for the Tigers.
According to the Record Courier, Evans ran the 400 meters in 54.09 and
he scored 1.5 points per basketball game during his senior year which culminated
with his receipt of the school’s Scholar-Athlete award.
After high school, Evans attended the
University of Nevada, Reno, and he graduated in 2020 with a degree in
International Affairs. During college, Evans began his affiliation with the
medical field by working as an emergency trauma technician at Renown Hospital.
After acquiring his degree from UNR, Evans
enlisted in the Nevada Army Guard as combat medic. His civilian occupation
nowadays is very similar as he works as a paramedic for the Regional Emergency
Medical Services Authority (REMSA).
At the Best Warrior contest held on the
huge 147,000 square acre depot in Mineral County, Evans caught a break when
combat lifesaving skills were included as an event – one in which he excelled
thanks to his military and civilian training. He also placed first among the
junior enlisted Soldiers in a modified combat fitness test and first in the
12-mile ruck march, which he finished in 2 hours, 42 minutes.
This year’s Best Warrior contest included
a total of 18 competitors, including four Tongan Marines and four Fijian
Soldiers. (The international participants competed in an exhibition status and
were not eligible for Nevada’s Best Warrior title.)
Before leaving for the Aloha State, Evans
has a busy schedule lined up in advance of the regional competition. He has a
389-page primer to read to prepare for the contest’s oral examination board and
he plans to devote several hours each day in the UNR pool practicing his
swimming – a likely event in the state composed of 137 islands.
“A Best Warrior contest will test you to a
whole new level of your physical ability,” Evans said.