Soldiers earn top honors as USARJ's best
May 20, 2013
OKINAWA, Japan - The 14 soldiers from mainland Japan and Okinawa displayed their warrior skills and talents to see who would be named U.S. Army Japan Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during USARJ's Warrior Challenge competition April 22-25 on Okinawa, Japan.
Command Sgt. Maj. Steven L. Payton, command sergeant major for USARJ, explained the competition allowed competing soldiers to display their warrior spirit.
"The energy for a competition of this magnitude definitely brings out the best in every soldier." said Payton. "The esprit de' corps and the sharing of knowledge exuded in a competition like this by our soldiers speaks volumes to who they are and they truly represent the "ichi-dan," or one team spirit, as a member of a team of great solders in our formations across Japan."
During the four-day competition soldiers endured both physical and mental stamina to conquer events like urban orienteering, day and night land navigation, warrior tasks, weapons qualification with reflexive firing and a physical fitness test.
In addition to attending a board soldiers had to take a written exam that included writing and an essay. The event proved to test each soldier's mental and physical stability and endurance during the competition.
At the end of the competition only two soldiers were chosen as USARJ's best Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.
Staff Sgt. Ian T. Munkacsy, an operations noncommissioned officer assigned to USARJ's special troops battalion, was selected as the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Spc. Mara E. Snowman, a bandsmen assigned to USARJ's band, was selected as Soldier of Year.
For Snowman the competition proved to be rewarding yet bittersweet for the Cleveland, Tenn., native. On day two of the competition she received notice of the passing of her grandmother.
"It was really hard but I let it motivate me to work harder." said Snowman. "I know she would have wanted me to compete and give my best effort."
Both Munkacsy and Snowman will represent USARJ during the U.S. Army Pacific's Warrior Challenge Competition mid June.