Fort Jackson Soldiers put bodies, minds to the test in competitions
June 21, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Ten of Fort Jackson's best Soldiers vied for the titles of Platoon Sergeant of the Year, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Soldier of the Year during a competition June 12-15.
Staff Sgt. Michael Henry, Sgt. 1st Class Alissa Guzman and Spc. Robert Smead Jr. emerged from the competition as this year's winners.
"They bust out here to do the Fit to Win Obstacle Course; it definitely takes some energy out of them. It's just a perfect environment - it's pouring rain and muddy so they got good and dirty," said Post Command Sgt. Major Kevin Benson.
Each competitor completed four days of graded exercise tasks and a formal review board.
"We have made the competition identical to the next level of board. We kind of try to make it identical to prepare our Soldiers, and, of course you can't be the center of excellence for all of the Army unless you have representation at all levels," Benson said. "Our goal is to go to TRADOC and win at every level, but you can't do that unless you put the time and investment in early on."
Benson stood before the competitors as they walked into the room in a single file line to hear the results of the competition. As the winners' names were called out competitors stood eager to hear this year's winner.
Henry, assigned to 187th Ordnance Battalion, and Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Croteau, 369th Adjutant General Battalion, went head-to-head for the title of Platoon Sergeant of the Year. The two platoon sergeants were neck-andneck the entire competition until the very end, when Henry pulled it out, Benson said.
Henry said the competition was wellplanned and executed, and that it was challenging.
"All the competitors were challenging, I enjoyed it," he said. "It's a lot of pride to compete against one of the best noncommissioned officers out there, and I look forward to the next challenge."
Croteau shared a similar sentiment. "I thought it was a good competition. The events were very challenging. The competition was very steep. I thought it was a very good competition overall," Croteau said.
Guzman, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, competed against three NCOs in order to claim her title as NCO of the Year.
"Overall, I am my biggest critic. Overall, I think I did OK. I completed everything asked of me," Guzman said.
Guzman said she felt a little pressure to perform well during the competition as she felt she was representing not only herself, but women in the military.
"Honestly I love the Army," Guzman said. "I look for any opportunity the Army presents to me. This will allow me to continue as a leader, as a trainer, and when I come in contact with my leaders, peers and subordinates, I will have something to offer."
Smead, the Soldier of the Year, felt the competition was very physically demanding -- more than he expected.
"The very first day and events leading up to land navigation were the hardest," Smead said.
Although, he said the contest was very demanding physically, he found that competing was an honor.
"Not a lot of people get to compete in something like this. For me personally, this will give me the confidence to keep pushing forward," Smead said.
The winners of this year's competition will go on to compete at the TRADOC level next week.