Soldiers, NCOs compete to be named IMCOM's best
April 23, 2012
SAN ANTONIO (April 24, 2012) -- Four Soldiers and four noncommissioned officers from around the world are facing off this week in the IMCOM Best Warrior competition at Camp Bullis, Texas.
The winners will be named IMCOM Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year, and compete for Army Soldier and NCO of the year at Fort Lee, Va., in the fall.
The Soldiers reached the IMCOM competition after winning installation and region levels. IMCOM has four regions: Pacific, Central, Atlantic and Europe.
Through a series of Soldier-skill tests -- beginning with an "oh-dark-thirty" physical fitness test and running the gamut from basic Soldier skills to night land navigation -- the four NCOs and four Soldiers will train and compete.
Two will represent the command in an Army-wide Best Warrior Competition this fall. The goal is to find the best Soldiers in IMCOM to be those representatives, said IMCOM CSM Earl Rice. The hunger to compete, to win, to do one's personal best will bring out the best in these Soldiers, and that's good for them, IMCOM, and the Army, according to Rice.
"When they push themselves to their limits [in a competition like this one], they know how to push their Soldiers beyond what they think they can do," Rice said.
These Soldiers are in it to win, Rice added. They represent the Army best by representing the best in themselves.
Staff Sgt. Robert Donovan, IMCOM Europe NCO of the Year, agreed.
"What I want to get out of this competition is simply to get some good training, push myself to the limits, hopefully come out on top, and continue as the Department of the Army NCO of the Year, but in the meantime lead from the front and have my Soldiers back in the rear be proud of what I do," he said.
"It's about learning, about being better Soldiers," said Army Environmental Command Command Sgt. Maj. Earlene Lavender, noncommissioned officer in charge of the event. "They all recognize this as an opportunity to learn and grow, and they all want the very best representing the command at the Army level."
Spc. Kevin Mulloy, Central Region soldier of the year, is banking skills for the future.
"What I really hope to get out of this is just the training tools to lead the Soldiers for whenever I step into the position of NCO -- something to actually show in the future and train the leaders of tomorrow."
Spc. Hannah Rademacher, an Army bandsman from Army North who won her "Soldier of the Year" title through board appearances, and the Army North NCO of the year (both stationed at Fort Sam Houston), are taking part this year in a non-competitive role as preparation for the All-Army competition.
"I can train for each of these events individually," said Rademacher, "but here I get them all back-to-back and can see how I handle it. Some of these tasks, like land [navigation] and combatives, I don't have a lot of opportunity to do," she said. "This is a great opportunity to learn more about the 'other side' of my job."
In opening remarks Sunday morning, Rice spoke to the competitors about the honor of making it through their garrison- and regional-level competitions to the IMCOM level, and reminded them that it's not just about winning, it's about becoming better Soldiers.
"We want you to come in, and do your absolute best in every event," he said. "You can't quit."
Practicing what he preached, Rice participated in the first major event of the competition alongside the Soldiers and NCOs: the Army Physical Fitness Test
The competitors had less than 90 minutes to recover from the PT test before moving out to the land navigation course, where they were challenged to plot and navigate to six different points as much as 1,500 meters apart in four hours or less. They went to another range that evening for night land navigation.
The results proved that the competitors were learning as well as competing. Times and accuracy improved across the board, in spite of the fact that as the Soldiers made their way back to the rally point they were ending a grueling 20-hour day.
The spirit of competition was high less than seven hours later as the Soldiers and NCOs began a twenty-station obstacle course.
While not all Soldiers were able to navigate all obstacles, every one completed the course, even a Soldier who sprained his ankle during night land navigation.
Over the course of the five-day competition, the Soldiers will average less than seven hours sleep a night while competing in physically and mentally demanding activities such as hand-to-hand combatives, military operations in urban terrain, board appearances and written exams during 17-hour work days.
"Every one of us will be a better Soldier the end of this week, including me," Lavender said.