Engineers put themselves to the test, vie for top honors
July 28, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- A blotch of blood seeping through the left leg of his uniform, Spc. Santos Delgado grunted and gasped for a heap of fresh air, trying to negotiate both his exhaustion and the "over-and-under" obstacle on the Camp Robertson confidence course.
One of four Soldiers and four noncommissioned officers competing for the titles of Soldier and NCO of the Year for the 15th Engineer Battalion, Delgado, had some advice for young Soldiers who want to succeed.
"Have motivation, confidence, and do what you're told at all times," said Delgado, winner of previous Soldier of the month and quarter boards, thus qualifying to vie for the title in the Schweinfurt training area July 21 and 22.
"These are guys that are serious about not only representing their unit in a good light, but also themselves," said 15th EN Bn Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Houston, who presided over the competition.
"They get tested physically, mentally, both on their tactical warfighting skills but also on the decision-making process."
Staff Sgt. Michael Seelow, 500th Engineer Company, and Spc. Ryan Panosh, Forward Support Company, were named NCO and Soldier of the year, respectively, and will represent the battalion in the 18th Engineer Brigade competition in September.
Soldiers and NCOs who participate in such competitions have set themselves apart, according to Houston.
"Guys that compete at these kinds of things are really your self-starters, guys that are serious about distinguishing themselves above their peers," he said. "So a lot of it comes from personal pride."
The event, which began with a physical training test and ended with a board in Class A uniform the following day, included day-and-night land navigation, testing on Army warrior tasks, an eight-mile road march, and a stress shoot at the Victory Training Center.
"It is a very hard competition not to be taken lightly and definitely involves a lot of training," said Spc. Justin Dibler, a mechanic with the 902nd Engineer Company who conducted regular road marches while preparing for the competition.
"They've got to do the right thing at all times and, of course, work on their physical and mental toughness. Besides that, train, train, train," said Sgt. Robert Smith, who, like Delgado, represented Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
Smith, who has been keenly aware of his own personal goals and milestones during his three-plus years in the Army, wants Soldiers to push themselves to see how good they are.
"It's always been my belief that if you want something bad enough, go for it and take it. They've just got to step up to the plate, go for it and grab it," he said.