OKINAWA, Japan- The 10th Regional Support Group selected its top Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during the unit's competition Oct. 24 and 25th on Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan.

10th RSG held boards throughout the past fiscal year and nine Soldiers, seven from Okinawa and two from the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion on mainland Japan, competed to grab for honors as Soldier and NCO of Year.

Command Sgt. Maj. Shelton R. Williamson, the command sergeant major for the 10th RSG, explained the event as very significant and important for Soldiers during a challenging time with budget reductions for the Army.

"The goal is to stimulate e 'spirit de corps and enthusiasm within the organization," said Williamson. "As leaders we are asked to preserve the best soldiers for our Army and this also helps our Soldiers separate themselves from the pack."

The two day event included a physical fitness test, warrior tasks and a board. This was a major change for participants since their last board appearance. Instead of using traditional Army field manuals and regulations Soldiers were asked to study using new Army Doctrine Publications or ADP's to compete at the board.

At the end of the event it was a double reward for one battalion as Sgt. Matthew Early, a unit training noncommissioned officer assigned to the 333rd Signal Company, 78th Signal Battalion, was selected as the NCO of the Year and Spc. Shonnie Almeida, a satellite communications specialist assigned to the 333rd, was selected as the Soldier of the Year.

Both Soldiers will compete at the United States Army Japan and 8th Theater Sustainment Command level Warrior Challenge competitions next spring.

Early, who was runner up at the USARJ level this past April, said he looks to have a better performance this time around at both USARJ and 8th TSC competitions.

"I have enough time to prepare and since Almeida and I are in the same unit, we can study together and help each other out," said Early.

Almeida, who enlisted into the Army more than a year ago, explained he was elated to win such a big competition early in his military career.

"I believe this sets me up to be a better leader," said Almeida. "One day I will lead soldiers and can share with them this experience to motivate them to compete and help them as well."