Although he works outside the trenches, Spc. Jose Figueroa has demonstrated advanced ability in soldiering skills, becoming the U.S. Army Pacific's Top Soldier. He is competing this week in the U.S. Army Top Soldier of the Year competition in Fort Lee, Va.

Figureroa bested soldiers from Hawaii, Alaska, Japan and Korea in a competition known as the "Warrior Challenge," a grueling week-long test of Soldier skills that include marksmanship, day and night land navigation, combatives, physical fitness, and pre-combat inspections. Part of the competition requires written tests and an oral examination standing in front of a board of battle-hardened sergeant majors.

Not bad, Figueroa says, for someone who works in a motor pool ordering parts for vehicles.

"When most people think of a Soldier, they think infantry, ranger, or special forces, but I always thought I could do the same skills even though I'm in the quartermaster corps. I'll be representing the support aspect of the Army," said Figueroa who grew up on military bases the son of an Army father.

For the Lawton, Okla., native, the competition in Fort Lee will be a kind of homecoming.

"I took my AIT [Advance Individual Training] at Fort Lee in 2010, when the national competition was going on. That sparked my interest that I could do this," said Figueroa, who is based in Hawaii with the 8th Theater Sustainment Command. "That was the start of my Army career and it's kind of cool I'm going back."

Figueroa said he wants to make the Army a career and has set the short-term goal of making sergeant and completing his bachelor's degree in information technology. He hopes to eventually become a warrant officer.

Figueroa represents the kind of Soldier the Army is looking for as it points to the year 2020: agile and flexible, innovative and adaptive, demonstrating depth and versatile. These are some of the same characteristics Figueroa said he needed to overcome the enormous challenges of the warrior competition.

"The Army trains us all to the same standards, but the infantry guys get more training because they do it every day. What set me apart was that I had the will to win. I had a greater drive to be the best," Figueroa said.

The winner of the national contest will be announced at the AUSA convention in Washington, D.C., next week.

Page last updated Mon October 15th, 2012 at 14:09