Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for October 18, 2010 - Staff Sgt. Loren Gernandt

Staff Sergeant Loren Gernandt

Current Unit: 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps
Current Position: Geospatial Squad Leader
Component: Active Duty
Current Location: Fort Bragg, N.C
Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
Years of Service: 5

Maneuvering through navigation courses, ensuring weapon accuracy, providing combat first aid, identifying unexploded ordnances and responding to unforeseen circumstances are all part of a typical deployment—but this week those same skills will be put to the test as part of the Army’s Best Warrior competition.

Commonly referred to as the “Super Bowl” of Army competitions, Best Warrior brings together 24 of the Army’s finest, each of whom have won the title of Soldier or Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year within their own command.

Representing the Army’s Forces Command (FORSCOM), Staff Sgt. Loren Gernandt is one of the competitors vying to be named NCO of the Year. As he battles for the honor of being named the Army’s best, Gernandt is confident that the lessons he learned in Iraq will give him an advantage in the competition this week at Fort Lee, Va.

“Being in a combat zone with a rapid operational tempo and high stress levels made me realize the importance of good preparation and outstanding leadership,” he said. “Since my deployment, I have made it my goal to teach, coach and prepare as many Soldiers as I can affect, so they will be ready to execute any mission at any time with superb results.”

While deployed to Iraq from 2006 to 2008, Gernandt served as a geospatial squad leader and provided supervision to the Soldiers in his unit responsible for creating maps in preparation for convoy missions. He also ensured the accuracy of all topographic operations, while leading and mentoring the younger Soldiers on the squad.

To qualify for this week’s competition, Gernandt won the preliminary contest for FORSCOM that was held in April at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. There, he competed against seven NCOs in a series of military knowledge, skills and tactical contests to determine who would be named FORSCOM’s NCO of the Year.

“I was pleased enough representing the XVIII Airborne Corps and being one of the finalists to compete in the FORSCOM NCO of the Year competition, but being selected as the winner was a huge surprise because of the caliber of elite NCO's I was competing against. Any one of us could have walked away as the victor,” he said.

Among Gernandt’s biggest supporters are his family—his wife, Sgt. Alanna Gernandt, also a member of the 20th Engineer Brigade. Although she won’t be able to travel to Fort Lee to watch her husband compete, she and their children, Adrian (6), Madison (4) and Anneliese (1), will be cheering him on at home.

Gernandt is grateful for the opportunity he has to compete.

"No matter what the outcome of the competition is, I will put forth my best effort and take the valuable feedback and experience from these competitions back to my Soldiers and peers," He said.

For more information on the Best Warrior Competition and to track progress throughout the week, visit http://www.army.mil/bestwarrior/2010/.

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