U.S. Army Alaska names NCO, Soldier of the year
April 20, 2011
U.S. Army Alaska has named Sgt. Jonathan Williams of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment its NCO of the Year; and Spc. James M. Wells of the 95th Chemical Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade its Soldier of the Year.
Sixteen Soldiers and noncommissioned officers vied for the titles during the USARAK Warrior Challenge Competition April 11-15 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The competitors were measured against their peers in several events testing aptitude in a broad range of Army skills including accountability, physical fitness and agility, day and night land navigation, weapons familiarization, weapons qualification, reflexive fire and written communication.
The culminating event for competitors was an appearance before a formal board.
USARAK Commanding General Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo and Command Sgt. Maj. David O. Turnbull presented each of the competitors with a coin for excellence and commended them for outstanding performance and dedication before announcing the winners at the final ceremony April 15.
Sgt. Williams and Spc. Wells are slotted to represent USARAK in June in the U.S. Army Pacific Soldier and NCO of the Year competition in Hawaii.
NCO of the Year
Williams is the Senior Medic NCO at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
The Raleigh, N.C., native has been in the Army 6 years. Williams and his wife Sahayla have one child and another due in July.
He said land navigation, in early spring conditions, was the toughest part of the competition.
"We did it in deep snow and we carried more gear than the [Expert Infantryman Badge competitors] did it in," Williams said.
A "mystery event" presented a unique and puzzling challenge, according to Williams.
"They gave us a box with a whole bunch of weapons parts mixed up in it and told us to put them back together in, like, seven minutes," Williams said. "It was all the skill level one weapons."
Soldier of the Year
Spc. James M. Wells is a chemical operations specialist with the 95th Chemical Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
The Falmouth, Ky., native has been in the Army for three years. He and his wife Rachel have two children.
Wells graduated from ITT Tech with an associate's degree in criminal justice in March.
He said recent field training with his unit helped prepare him for the competition.
"In my [military occupational specialty] you have to be able to do a little bit of everything," Wells said. "Shoot, move, communicate."
Wells said he had some tough competition throughout Warrior Challenge.
"Everyone gave it their all," said Wells. "Every event was challenging, five points separated me from the competition. In the end I knew I had to step it up to another level so when I went to the board I ensured that I maintained my military bearing and correctly answered my questions."
Photos of Warrior Challenge 2011 are online at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarak/sets/72157626479307866/with/5622636793/