FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Thirteen competitors faced four days of surprise challenges this week to determine who would be the Oustanding Servicemember of the Year for the Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood for 2009. "All or most of you will hate me by the end of the week," said Staff Sgt. Leslie Ledding, 2008 Drill Sergeant of the Year and OSMOY Competition organizer, to the competitors at their inbrief, Friday. The competitors faced a myriad of challenges over the entire week. To add to the difficulty, the Soldiers did not know what they would be doing until they showed up at the location to do it. The events were so secret, one competitor asked if his interview for the GUIDON was one of his competition tasks. "It keeps the integrity of the competition pretty good," said Staff Sgt. James Barrett, Company A, 795th Military Police Battalion drill sergeant, of the secrecy of the competition. "It forces you to do your best on everything because you don\'t know how you're doing or how your competition is doing." The competitors completed an Army Physical Fitness Test, fired the M203 grenade launcher, competed in combatives, conducted day and night land navigation, had warrior task evaluations with urban orienteering, performed a 12-mile ruck march, wrote essays, took a written exam and will take part in several other events today. Drill sergeants also had to complete six drill sergeant modules for evaluation, including situations dealing with heat casualties and Soldiers refusing to drill. "My goal was to set them up for the best success that I can when they get to the next level," Ledding said. "I went off the experiences I had last year here and how we performed at the Training and Doctrine competition." The Soldiers emphasized how this competition went beyond the typical board most Soldiers attend. "It's not what I expected," said Spc. Keith Stapley, Company C, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment. "It's a lot more hands on and pretty innovative. This board is 'We know you know how to do it, so let's get out there and see if you can do it.' A lot of this stuff I haven't done since basic." The Soldiers' days started anywhere between 5:45 a.m. and 2 a.m., and lasted as long as 6:30 p.m. "It's pretty challenging mentally and physically," Barrett said. "Last night we had a written 100 question test encompassing everything in the Army. And it wasn't multiple choice - you had to write out the answer." Some Soldiers had to face down personal fears during the competition. "The most difficult part for me was land navigation at night," said Spc. Devon Garza, Company B, 31st Engineer Battalion. "Being in the dark is my biggest fear, and being in the woods at night - I faced my biggest fear and overcame it." The snow and cold weather did not slow the competitors down. "While we're doing it we hate it, but afterwards we have great stories," Garza said. Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hayes, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood, pointed out the significance of the competition this year. "If you are the NCO of the Year during the Year of the NCO," Hayes said. "Let's just say the stars will align." The competition winners will be announced at the OSMOY award ceremony at 1:30 p.m., Friday, in Baker Theater. -30-

Page last updated Fri March 6th, 2009 at 17:17