Artillery sergeant, cavalry troop win 82nd Airborne Division NCO, Soldier of the Year
Staff Sgt. Lance Noell, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, calls in unexploded ordnance on a pre-Ranger training course during the Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year competition.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Twelve of the best from the 82nd Airborne Division faced off for the title of noncommissioned officer and Soldier of the year the week of March 15 to 18.

The winners were Staff Sgt. Lance Noell, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade and Spc. Jordan Dahl, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The steep competition tested the essential Soldier skills of the NCOs and Soldiers from six of the seven brigades. The Combat Aviation Brigade did not participate in the competition because of the timing of their deployment to Afghanistan.

Each Soldier won a unit, battalion and brigade level competition in order to take on others from across the division. Noell, from Clarksville, Tenn., has been in the Army for over 10 years and said he was proud to represent his unit and brigade to the best of his ability.

"I wanted to show what 2nd Brigade was all about and dominate," said Dahl, who is originally from Fresno, Calif. and has been in the Army for just over two years.

The enlisted Soldiers were tested in marksmanship, land navigation, both day and night, passed through pre-Ranger training courses and faced a board of command sergeant majors.

These basic Army warrior tests were the hardest to prepare for during the competition, said Noell.

"Out of all the tasks we could have done, they only chose six," he said. "If you're on a mission down range, you know you will need a certain set of skills, but this was broader. Like down range you know you need first aid and evacuation skills, but for this we had to study everything."

Neither Soldier was expecting to win and be able to go on to the XVIII Airborne Corps-wide competition from Monday to March 25. That round will be take place at the Fort Bragg Noncommissioned Officer Academy and will be followed by a U.S. Forces Command level face-off. The same skills will be tested and enlisted Soldiers from across the corps will compete against one another.

"I'm studying again for the board and trying to touch up on everything I might need to know," said Dahl. "I want to stay on top of my game because I'm not sure what the other divisions will bring."

Noell said that he would spend the rest of this week studying his Army warrior tests and doing physical training in anticipation for next week.

Both Soldiers have some advice for their peers if they decide to take on the
competition next year - get good references from their enlisted leadership and study, study, study.

"Go up to the boards as much as possible, that's the stuff you need to know," said Noell.
The runners-up for the competition were Staff Sgt. Daniel Jenni, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team and Spc. James S. Ross, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Page last updated Fri March 26th, 2010 at 13:33