MANNHEIM, Germany - For most Soldiers, the road to a brigade Warrior or Warrior Leader of the Year competition begins months prior to the event itself. It is a journey of late-night studying, memorizing, repetitive drills, training, practicing ... and practicing again.

The knowledge and the skills are applied periodically at monthly and quarterly boards at the company and battalion level. Making it through every level to a brigade WOY/WLOY competition says a lot about the Soldier or noncommissioned officer who is able to rise above his or her peers. It suggests a resiliency and dedication that exceeds the norm.

The 18th Military Police Brigade tested the degree of that resiliency and the mettle of its Soldiers during its 3-day WOY/WLOY competition May 23-25 at the Lampertheim Training Area here.

The brigade operations section had done its fair share of preparing for the event - planning since March, enlisting the support of 50 supporting personnel to ensure the competition went off without a hitch and getting the official thumbs-up from Command Sgt. Maj. Brenda Curfman, the command sergeant major of the 18th MP Bde., during her walk-through of the events.

All of the planning and rehearsals were done to make sure the event ran smoothly and that Soldiers could focus on their tasks with a minimum of delays. Soldiers endured the relentless physical demands of day- and night-land navigation, an Army Physical Fitness Test, an obstacle course, combatives, a 12-mile ruck march, an M4 rifle and M9 pistol range, Situational Training Exercise lanes, and a board in front of four sergeants major by the time their three days were through.

"All of the Soldiers out there wanted to be challenged in one way or another and looking at how we set these lanes up, I know these Soldiers got challenged," said Sgt. Maj. Russell Erickson, the operations sergeant major for the 18th MP Bde.

As much as these Soldiers might love a challenge, being prepared is key during an event like the SOY/NOY.

"It was kind of difficult to anticipate what we were going to do ... there was an outline, of course, so it made it a little easier to prepare," said Spc. Kiyan Mitchell, a signal systems specialist with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th MP Bde., and one of the competitors. "But, it never quite prepares you for the real thing because it's always on a much larger scale."

The competitors were all put to the test during their three days, racing against time for most of their events, and battling heat and exhaustion while trying to retain everything that they'd been training for.

At the end of the final day of competition, the board, presided over by Curfman, was a defining factor in determining which Soldiers and NCOs personified the values and characteristics the brigade was looking for in its competition.

"I think the board at the end is a key piece, and I think it's critical to their success ... it really shows the 'total Soldier' package," Erickson explained, adding that the Soldier who represents the brigade ultimately needs to be a "walking, talking, regulation, Skill Level 1 manual of being a Soldier."

Spc. Alana Bergstrom, a military police Soldier with the 527th MP Company, 709th MP Battalion from Grand Forks, N.D., was named Warrior of the Year. Sgt. Samuel Dagiau, a military police Soldier with the 230th MP Co., 95th MP Bn. from Plains, Mont., was named Warrior Leader of the Year. Bergstrom and Dagiau will advance, along with Sgt. 1st Class Dashawne Browne, an operations NCO with the 527th MP Co., to the 21st Theater Sustainment Command WOY/WLOY competition June 12-16.

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