Division West names NCO, Soldier of the Year
April 29, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Competitions are commonplace in society. People sit and watch, for hours at a time, events ranging from professional boxing to American Idol.
The United States Army, going back for generations, has also had competitive events for Soldiers to test their wits and abilities against their peers. First Army Division West holds to this tradition.
Last week, Division West held its third Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Best Warrior Competition here. During an awards ceremony April 25, Spc. Michael Martin, a motor transport operator and unit armorer with the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas, was named Division West Soldier of the Year.
"I'm very proud. This is what I came here to do," Martin said. "All the training I did before now proved itself here."
Staff Sgt. Brett Oldenburger, a trainer/mentor with the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wis., was named Division West NCO of the Year.
"I'm glad I could come here and represent my unit and the Army," Oldenburger said. "There were top competitors here that really made me try my hardest every day."
Martin and Oldenburger competed against eight other NCOs and one other Soldier representing the division's eight brigades. For three days, the candidates completed a series of challenging events, earning points to determine which NCO and Soldier would proceed to compete at the next level: First Army.
The first day of competition consisted of an Army physical fitness test, an obstacle course, and day and night land navigation.
"This is very good professional development," said Staff Sgt. Jacob Fry, a member of the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "I'd tell any Soldier to come into a competition with a good attitude, train for it, and know your Soldier skills."
The second day began with combatives drills and warrior tasks, which tested the candidates on skills including interpreting visual signals, evaluating casualties, calling for fire, requesting medical evacuation, and issuing warning orders. In the afternoon, the candidates completed an M4 rifle zeroing and qualification range.
"I enjoy competing," said Spc. Tyler Campbell, a member of the 5th Armored Brigade at Fort Bliss. "It's not every day you get to do stuff like this."
The final day of competition began at 4 a.m. with an eight-mile road march. After this event, the candidates put on their dress uniforms for a board appearance, during which they answered a variety of questions geared to test their knowledge of current events, chain of command and Army knowledge.
"All 11 competitors were excellent," said Master Sgt. Kelly Kalama, Division West operations NCO and event coordinator. "It makes me feel good knowing that there are still Soldiers out there that care about the Army, competitions and their units."
Martin and Oldenburger will compete for the titles of First Army Soldier and NCO of the Year later this year at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.