MCoE Soldiers take top honors at Army competitions
June 17, 2011
By Sue Ulibarri
FORT BENNING, Ga., June 17, 2011 -- The â€śOne Force, One Fightâ€ť 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 Brigadeâ€™s 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Battalion, won the 2011 Armyâ€™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 Brigadeâ€™s 4th Ranger Training Battalion, and Spc. Blaise Corbin, operational forces specialist also with the 4th RTB, took the two top spots in the Armyâ€™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.
â€śWe are extremely proud of the accomplishments of these three Soldiers,â€ť said Command Sergeant Major Chris Hardy, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Command Sgt. Maj. â€śTheir 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.â€ť
To win the coveted Drill Sergeant of the Year, Heslin rose above five other drill sergeants from across the Armyâ€™s Training and Doctrine Command during the five-day competition at Fort Jackson.
â€śIt was a tough five days. We were tested in our ability to perform and master all associated tasks and drills for basic combat training,â€ť said Heslin. â€śWorking with Santiago and Corbin, and the many other Soldiers who supported us, really allowed us to focus on the training and preparation for competition. Itâ€™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,â€ť 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.
â€śWe trained hard collectively at the post level,â€ť said Santiago. â€śWe focused on all areas, and challenged each other to go further and master each task"we trained pretty hard and itâ€™s great to see the reward today"itâ€™s an honor for us, but it wonâ€™t stop here,â€ť he said.
Corbin, with less than a year in the Army under his belt, appreciated the â€śOne Force, One Fightâ€ť approach to the competition and attributed it to directly helping him achieve success. â€śStudying for the boards was the most intimidating part of the Soldier of the Year competition,â€ť he said. â€śMy success came from the support of the other members of my team,â€ť he said. â€śThe 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.â€ť
Santiago and Corbin will represent the MCoE and Training and Doctrine Command at the Armyâ€™s Best Warrior Competition Oct. 2-8 at Fort Lee, Va. There, they will compete against 24 of the Armyâ€™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 todayâ€™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.