Soldier of the Year competition fierce, challenging
June 17, 2009
- Staff Sgt. Nathan Dunkelberg, 9th Signal Command (Army), was named Noncommisioned Officer of the Year at Fort Huachuca
- Spc. Mary Daledovich of the 556th Ordnance Company, 86th Signal Battalion here, was named Soldier of the Year.
- The Soldiers trained and planned to the best of their ability while knowing very little about tasks they would face.
- Army Warrior Tasks
Three rigorous days of studying, sweating and training finally came to a head on May 15, when Staff Sgt. Nathan Dunkelberg, microwave operations sergeant for Network Enterprises Technology/9th Signal Command (Army) here, was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year during the 11th Signal Brigade NCO/SOY Board Competition. Spc. Mary Daledovich of the 556th Ordnance Company, 86th Signal Battalion here, was named Soldier of the Year.
There was a total of five participants who competed in the two categories of NCO and Soldier of the Year. All five competitors were based here at Fort Huachuca.
Competition began May 11, with a weigh-in and an Army Physical Fitness Test. The APFT took place at Barnes Field House track, and it was the only portion of the competition known to the competitors in advance. The entire schedule was known only by the event's planning team.
The Soldiers trained and planned to the best of their ability while knowing very little about tasks they would face. For many of the Soldiers, the stress of the unknown was the most challenging aspect of the competition.
"I was nervous," said Dunkelberg. "It was difficult not knowing what to expect because there are a lot of different tasks that can be incorporated into each area."
"I tried to understand as much as I could about my Army Warrior Tasks," said Daldovich. "I reviewed my study material in an effort to understand the total Soldier concept."
On the second day, the competition began at 6 a.m. and the competitors were taken to the Nuclear Biological Chemical Chamber where they were graded on how to react to a chemical/biological attack without becoming a casualty. They were also required to properly decontaminate themselves and their equipment within one minute of finding chemical contamination.
For the urban orienteering and Warrior Tasks portion of the competition, each competitor was given an area map of Fort Huachuca along with a 10-digit set of coordinates which they had to plot; each of the coordinates represented a different task the Soldier would have to complete. The complete course from start to finish spanned just over 10 miles.
Some of the Warrior Tasks the competitors had to complete were evaluating a casualty and performing combat first aid, weapons assembly and functions check and performing a vehicle search.
Planning the competition proved to be just as difficult as competing in it. Sgt. 1st Class Donald Clark, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the event, organized each Warrior Task down to the detail to ensure that each challenge was true to life.
"All Soldiers should be competent and proficient in all Warrior tasks. I compiled a listing of all tasks, and submitted them to the Brigade S-3 Sergeant Major and Brigade Command Sergeant Major for approval. Prior to submitting the tasks, we tried to envision how challenging we can make the tasks, and the resources available on the installation to ensure the tasks were realistic and challenging," said Clark. "Each of the Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) has performance measures that each Soldier is expected to complete. We graded all tasks on a "Go" or "No Go" grading scale. We calculated the number of tasks correctly completed, and fit that in to the overall point system established for each event."