GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Five Soldiers pushed their limits, March 6-8, as they vied for a chance to represent the garrison for the upcoming Installation Management Command-Europe NCO and Soldier of the Year competition. The Europe-level competition will take place at Grafenwoehr, May 1-4.

Three Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, Sgt. Judy Oman, Sgt. Bo Taylor and Spc. Zachery Bruno, along with Spc. Scott Myers, HHC, USAG Hohenfels, and Spc. Travis Watts, HHC, USAG Garmisch, proved Army strong during the competition. After three rigorous days filled with sweat, physical training and late-night studying, Oman and Watts were named USAG Grafenwoehr's NCO and Soldier of the year, respectively.

The competition kicked-off March 6 with a weigh-in and equipment display inspection. The following day competitors showcased their physical and mental stamina with an early morning Army Physical Fitness Test followed by a written exam and essay test where they were asked to write about the recent repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

Competitors continued to the firing ranges where they demonstrated their marksmanship as well as weapons knowledge, including safety, cleaning, disassembly and malfunction procedures on a M16-series rifle.

An afternoon combatives tournament at the Main Post Physical Fitness Center rounded out day two of the competition.

Day three began at 4:30 a.m. with a 12-mile foot march. Competitors carried 35-pound rucksacks on their backs, along with approximately 20 pounds of additional gear, including water, a rifle and Interceptor Body Armor as they plodded through the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

Watts crossed the finish line first in two hours and 34 minutes. His sponsor, Sgt. Lisa Harper, ran the length of the course with him for support.

The final day proved the toughest for all competitors as each stood before the selection board. The board, consisting of eight senior enlisted leaders, asked competitors a wide array of questions ranging from uniform regulations and Army polices to current events.

"It was by far the most nerve-racking of all the events," said Oman, the only female competitor of the group. "You never know what they are going to ask, but they challenge you."

Oman was tested both physically and mentally throughout the competition, but felt this experience will aid her in future endeavors. "It's been a good learning experience," said Oman.

Watts agreed.

"This is a great opportunity to open doors for your future in the Army and to better lead your Soldiers," he said.

The key to winning, said Watts, is to think you're going to win.

"It's about challenging yourself and proving to yourself and your peers that you can do this," said Watts. "I stay competitive until the very end."

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