USARIEM Soldiers prepare for competition
While Staff Sgt. Jay O'Hara (center) moves on to physician assistant studies, Sgt. Matt Dickson (left) and Spc. Dennis Scofield will represent the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in next month's U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command NCO and Soldier of the Year competitions.

One will depart. The other will move up and make space for a third to join in the fun.

That's the story of the candidates whom the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick Soldier Systems Center will send on to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command NCO and Soldier of the Year competitions in late April.

In last fall's USARIEM competitions, Sgt. Jay O'Hara won NCO of the Year, and Spc. Matt Dickson took Soldier of the Year. Now a staff sergeant, O'Hara will soon enter the Interservice Physician Assistant Program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Dickson, since promoted to sergeant, will take O'Hara's place at the MRMC competition.

"I got promoted," Dickson said. "That took me out of Soldier of the Year, so if (O'Hara) wasn't leaving, I wouldn't go to the NCO of the Year. He would still go. It just happened to work out that he was leaving and I got promoted.

"It's just one of those weird things. It just happened to fall into place like that this time."

That left the Soldier of the Year slot to Spc. Dennis Scofield, Dickson's main competitor last fall.

"Scofield's a very good competitor," Dickson said. "He'll do really, really well."

Scofield pointed out that the USARIEM Soldier of the Year competition provided a refreshing change of pace.

"It was a lot of fun," said Scofield, "and we got to do a lot of things that we normally don't get to do on a daily basis."

According to O'Hara, the USARIEM competition was "a great learning experience at the same time, too - learning about yourself and learning about how much you really do know about the Army. You surprise yourself."

The three competitors certainly impressed Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Persaud, USARIEM first sergeant.

"In everyone's career, you encounter Soldiers that make a tough job look easy," Persaud said. "After three days of intense military competition, these individuals have done just that."

O'Hara said he believed that the pressure lessened as NCOs and Soldiers moved up levels in the competitions.

"All the sergeants major know that you're a legit Soldier - you know - you're a solid person," O'Hara said. "You've made it this far already."

Dickson said he plans to swing for the fences in the MRMC NCO competition. "I'm going to be like a four-month-old NCO," Dickson said. "I've got nothing to lose. I can afford to be a little bit more aggressive, I think, than some of the other ones, because I don't have as much on the line."

Page last updated Fri March 4th, 2011 at 09:17