GARMSICH, Germany - Continuing a tradition of excellence from U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch Military Police, Sgt. Marco Garced was named the 2008 Installation Management Command Soldier of the Year during competition held July 14-17 at Fort AP Hill, Va.
Garced, 21, who was promoted from specialist to sergeant July 2, started his journey in being named the command's top Soldier while competing in USAG Stuttgart's Soldier/NCO of the Year event. After winning garrison-level honors, he drove ahead to win the 2008 IMCOM-Europe SOY title, following in the footsteps of his senior noncommissioned officer and fellow policeman Sgt. First Class Christopher Allison, the 2007 IMCOM and IMCOM-Europe NCO of the Year.
During the IMCOM competition stateside, Garced said he excelled physically.
"I actually did way above the standard (for the physical fitness test)," said Garced. "I exceeded ... the max score. Anything that had to do with physical challenges, I did best in."
In Virginia, humid temperatures soared from 90 to 100 degrees, said Garced, who hails from distinctly cooler White Plains, N.Y., along with now being accustomed to the colder Alpine climate found here.
"The hardest challenge for me was adjusting to heat (that) I'm not used to," Garced said, adding that the last day of the competition, tagged Objective Bravo, was the toughest test, as it included a long, timed road march with full rucksack and weapons.
"It was one big mission," he noted. "We flew in on Black Hawk (helicopters), and from there proceeded about two miles to our objective and came across a (Military Operations Urban Terrain) site."
After completing that task, participants hit the road, again marching in the unrelenting heat, as their day stretched from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Besides maxing out the PT, Garced also scored well in Soldier knowledge portion. But being stationed at Garmisch - with its higher altitude in a cooler climate - put him at a disadvantage during weapons qualification with the M-4 rifle.
"Usually I shoot very well, but that day it was difficult with the heat," he admitted.
To prepare for the IMCOM competition, Garced worked closely with Allison and fellow MP Sgt. Jerame Stoffer
"Sgt. First Class Allison helped get me ready," Garced said, "and Sgt. Stoffer put in much time and effort to demonstrate different equipment I hadn't been able to get my hands on."
In fact, if Garmisch didn't possess gear that was listed for use at Fort AP Hill, Allison or Stoffer would scour manuals or search the Internet to give Garced a virtual class on how to operate it.
"It actually worked," Garced said. "I saw the equipment and (became) familiar with it - just from seeing it on a computer screen or in a book."
The MP corps runs strong in Garced's family. As an athlete, he wanted to test himself by becoming a Soldier in October 2004 to follow in his father's footsteps. His dad, a veteran, returned to duty as an Army Reserve MP when the younger Garced enlisted, and is scheduled to pull a training cycle soon as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, S.C.
And Garced's younger brother, Raymond, is an MP stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.
With his initial enlistment ending soon, Garced has decided to re-up.
"Being an MP in Garmisch, it's a tight-knit group, a close family," he said. "I feel like I have a lot to offer to a line unit. I'd like to go to Fort Carson and get into a line unit with my brother."
As for anyone wanting to compete in the 2009 Soldier of the Year competition, Garced offered this simple advice: train hard. He encourages them to "PT every day; study every day. You're going to test yourself, trust me."