NASHVILLE -- A young man from Middle Tennessee who joined the Tennessee National Guard barely two years ago because he "always had a deep interest in the military" is making his mark among his peers.
National Guard Specialist Daril Fannin, 19-year-old son of Edwin and Dardie Fannin of Fayetteville, was recently named Region III National Guard Soldier of the Year, winning out over Guardsmen from 10 states and territories in the Southeast.
Fannin is a Combat Medic with Winchester's Regimental Fires Squadron of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
After first being selected from soldiers representing Tennessee's five major commands, Fannin moved on to capture the regional title over Guardsmen from Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The Region III competition took place at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, but in August Fannin heads to Ft. Benning, Georgia, for national competition finals, seeking to become the National Guard's Soldier of the Year.
He has faced grueling competitive events such as a battery of physical fitness tests, Army "Warrior Tasks," weapons qualification, land navigation and a five-mile road march in full battle gear. Topping it off, he is required to sit before a five-member panel of grizzled Sergeants Major and field penetrating questions on every aspect of the Army.
"It's very, very intense at every level," Fannin said. "While it was tough here in Tennessee, the competition was spread over an extended period. But when it came to the southeast region, that intensity was multiplied many times over. Everything was a lot tougher."