Judging from the outcome of the 2008 Redstone Arsenal NCO/Soldier of the Year competition, maybe this is the year the Chicago Cubs will win their first world championship since 1908.

After all, this year's winners are both from Chicago and they are Cubs fans.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Marvan and Spc. Kenster Shannon were announced as the NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, at the annual award luncheon June 23 at the Officers and Civilians Club. It was among the first events during Armed Forces Celebration Week.

"This is an incredible thing that's occurred here for these two Soldiers," post commander and keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Jim Myles said. "They will always remember this for the rest of their lives."

He presented each honoree with an Army Commendation Medal. This was followed by a series of presentations from sponsors in the community: checks, gift certificates, savings bonds, and so on - amounting to several thousands of dollars for each.

"It's overwhelming, to tell you the truth," said Shannon, 22, a pharmacy technician at Fox Army Health Center.

"You get a better sense of the Army. It encourages you to become a non-commissioned officer and try to lead Soldiers. It motivates me to do the best I can while I'm in the service," Shannon said.

A bachelor, he was accompanied by his parents Deborah and Willie Shannon from Chicago and his girlfriend India Watkins from Newark, N.J.

Shannon, a member of MEDDAC, has been in the Army nearly four years and stationed at Redstone the past three years. He said his goals are to become an NCO, get his associate degree in general education, and eventually become a pharmacist.

Marvan, 35, is an instructor/writer for Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 59th Ordnance Brigade. He also serves as a squad leader for Charlie Company, 832nd Ordnance Battalion.

He has been in the Army since November 1990 and arrived at Redstone in April 2007. His wife, Joan, resides at their primary residence in Dinwiddie, Va.

Marvan's specialty is Integrated Family of Test Equipment operator/maintainer. He plans to continue being an instructor, working toward a bachelor's degree in computer science from Grantham University out of Missouri, and obtaining his private pilot's license.

"It's a major accomplishment," Marvan said of becoming NCO of the Year. "It's a goal I set. It was a big challenge and it was something I was able to accomplish."

The competition to determine the best-of-the-best included a written exam, an appearance before a formal board of senior NCOs, the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, warrior tasks training, and a land navigation course. About 290 people attended the award luncheon.

The other NCO of the Year candidates included Staff Sgt. Christopher Payne of HHC 59th and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Waddell of MEDDAC. The other Soldier of the Year candidates were Spc. Marketa Burnett of HHC 59th and Sgt. Mickey Hensley of MEDDAC.