(Left to right) Combined Arms Center’s Soldier of the year Spc. Blaise Corbin, operational forces specialist with 4th Ranger Training Battalion, Ranger Training Brigade, CAC Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Staff Sgt. Raymond Santiago, ranger instructor, 4th RTB and Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. John Heslin, drill sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 192nd Infantry Brigade brought top honors to the Maneuver Center of Excellence when it was announced today they won in two different Army competitions.

FORT BENNING, Ga., June 17, 2011 -- The “One Force, One Fight” approach was the winning combination for three Maneuver Center of Excellence Soldiers when it was announced today they won top honors in two different Army competitions.

Staff Sgt. John Heslin, with 192nd Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Battalion, won the 2011 Army’s Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Halfway across the nation, Staff Sgt. Raymond Santiago, an instructor at the Ranger Training Brigade’s 4th Ranger Training Battalion, and Spc. Blaise Corbin, operational forces specialist also with the 4th RTB, took the two top spots in the Army’s Combined Arms Center Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year competition. Santiago was recognized as the CAC NCO of the Year and Corbin took home Soldier of the Year.

Leading up to the competition, the three winning Soldiers worked together every day on different Warrior tasks. This One Force, One Fight approach, fostered insight and momentum for the three to reach their goals, the three agreed.

“We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of these three Soldiers,” said Command Sergeant Major Chris Hardy, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Command Sgt. Maj. “Their personal commitment, expert attention to detail technical and tactical competence has set them apart from their peers in these competitions. My thanks and appreciation goes out to each of them for demonstrating inspired leadership, and also to their leaders and families for their tremendous support during these Soldiers training and preparation for these competitions. These accomplishments are a testament to the One Force, One Fight spirit exemplified at the Maneuver Center.”

To win the coveted Drill Sergeant of the Year, Heslin rose above five other drill sergeants from across the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command during the five-day competition at Fort Jackson.

“It was a tough five days. We were tested in our ability to perform and master all associated tasks and drills for basic combat training,” said Heslin. “Working with Santiago and Corbin, and the many other Soldiers who supported us, really allowed us to focus on the training and preparation for competition. It’s an absolute honor to bring this back to the Maneuver Center of Excellence, my unit and my family"they are the individuals who have allowed me to reach this point,” he said.

Meanwhile, as Heslin knocked out the competition at Fort Jackson, Santiago and Corbin pushed forward against Soldiers from 10 installations, schools and support activities at Fort Leavenworth.

Santiago remained head-to-head with the lead NCO of the Year competitor throughout the CAC competition. After learning he claimed the CAC NCO of the Year he attributed his success to the training with Heslin and Corbin, and their ability to work together as a team.

“We trained hard collectively at the post level,” said Santiago. “We focused on all areas, and challenged each other to go further and master each task"we trained pretty hard and it’s great to see the reward today"it’s an honor for us, but it won’t stop here,” he said.

Corbin, with less than a year in the Army under his belt, appreciated the “One Force, One Fight” approach to the competition and attributed it to directly helping him achieve success. “Studying for the boards was the most intimidating part of the Soldier of the Year competition,” he said. “My success came from the support of the other members of my team,” he said. “The experience and leadership insight I was able to get from training with Sergeants Santiago and Heslin was extremely valuable. By training with together, they kept me focused and motivated, and it was great that we were all striving for the same goal essentially.”

Santiago and Corbin will represent the MCoE and Training and Doctrine Command at the Army’s Best Warrior Competition Oct. 2-8 at Fort Lee, Va. There, they will compete against 24 of the Army’s top NCOs and Soldiers from 12 commands over the course of five days. This competition will test their physical, mental and Army aptitude, warrior skills, fitness and ability to conduct battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment. Competitors will also face two selection boards comprised of six senior sergeants major from across the Army and chaired by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler.

Winners will be announced during the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting Oct. 10-12 in Washington, D.C.

Page last updated Fri June 17th, 2011 at 00:00