FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Nov. 20, 2008) - Soldiers in full battlefield gear ran toward a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in front of the U.S. Army South headquarters Mon., Nov. 17, as each rotor blade whipped through the brisk morning air. Surging with adrenaline, each Soldier took his spot on board as they embarked on an Army South competition like no other from Nov. 17-19.

"This quarter's competition was a little different than others in the past," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hubert, event coordinator. "We combined two competitions into one - our second quarter board was also the qualifying competition to represent Army South in the Fort Sam Houston Best Warrior competition."

Army South, like other commands, holds quarterly competitions to recognize Soldiers who excel. This quarter, Army South Command Sgt. Maj. Armando Ramirez named the Special Troops Battalion's Spc. James Chalkley the Fiscal Year '09, Second Quarter Soldier of the Quarter and representative to compete in Fort Sam Houston's Best Warrior competition, Dec. 5-8.

"Since we combined two events, we have added more tasks such as the obstacle course and the M-4 zero and qualification range," said Hubert. "And for the 'shock and awe' effect, a helicopter flight was added from Fort Sam Houston to Camp Bullis where they trained."

Chalkley said the addition of the helicopter flight set the tone for the competition and increased his motivation.

"When I jumped on that helicopter I thought to myself, 'I have to do the best that I can because this competition wasn't just for the Army South quarter board but the chance to represent my command in the Fort Sam Houston competition," Chalkley said.

Each Soldier's rise to the top begins at the bottom. Soldiers first test their knowledge and fitness capabilities against their peers in competitions at company or battalion levels. From there they compete against other top-notch Army South Soldiers during the command's quarter boards. The annual board winner will represent Army South at other competitions such as the FORSCOM Soldier of the Year.

"The Soldiers take pride in competing and representing their unit," said Hubert.

Each Soldier's initial knowledge of the various Army tasks and regulations, as well as the state of his or her physical fitness, determines how much preparation goes into preparing for each competition.

"I studied, looked over material and went out and tried my hardest," said Chalkley of his preparation. "I recently went to the promotion board, so much of the information asked at the formal board was fresh on my mind," he said.

After experiencing the competition, Chalkley's looking forward to competing at higher levels in the future and is confident in his abilities.

"From now until I go to Fort Sam Houston's Best Warrior competition, I am going to be preparing 24/7 and I plan on winning," said Chalkley. "Then in June (2009), I am competing in the Army South annual board and I plan on winning that, too," he said. "I have no doubt in my mind I can win."

Events in the competition included a physical fitness test, land navigation course, obstacle course, M-4 qualification, written exam and formal board. The formal board was conducted by various command sergeants major and included topics such as U.S. Army history, current events, leadership and the Warrior Ethos.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16