By Spc. Brandon M Banzhaf (1st CAV)January 23, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Standing in front of a door in his Army Service Uniform, a Soldier raises his hand to knock.
In that brief second before he commits, he pauses.
Will he be able to maintain his military bearing, answer all questions correctly and sound off with a confident voice?
He takes a deep breath and deliberately strikes the door three times.
From inside the room, a deep voice says, "Enter."
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division held the Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Quarter Board to test the top NCOs and Soldiers from the brigade.
Command Sgt. Maj. Scott R. Peare, the command sergeant major of the 3rd BCT, 1st Cav., wanted the brigade to hold an NCO and Soldier of the Quarter Board, said Sgt. Jeremy Armstrong, a command group team leader from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd BCT.
"He came to me and said, 'make it happen,'" Armstrong said.
Before the sun crested the horizon that morning, the Troopers conducted the Army Physical Fitness Test, which consists of two minutes of pushups, two minutes of situps, and a two-mile run.
"If they don't pass these events, they are out of the competition," Armstrong said.
The candidates took a short break to get prepared for the next event, the six-mile foot march.
Checkpoints along the foot march route evaluated the Troopers on basic Soldier skills, such as performing first aid, properly donning a gas mask, interacting with media, conducting a radio check, determining distances on a map, and demonstrating knowledge of different weapons.
"I took experiences from previous boards I've competed in to piece together some challenging situations," he said. "Even though there is no set time to complete all the events … effort will be taken into consideration."
There were two events at each checkpoint, including at the start/finish point and the turnaround point.
The NCOs began with assembling and programming a tactical radio. The Soldiers then encountered a simulated chemical environment where they demonstrated how to properly don a gas mask. After correctly donning their masks, they had to answer a question about the gas mask correctly before they could then remove it.
At another checkpoint, candidates performed first aid on a simulated casualty and determined both curved and straight-line distances on a map. Once they completed their tasks, they started marching to the turnaround point.
Further along the foot march, the Soldiers encountered a role-playing reporter who tested their knowledge of interacting with the media and operational security.
Along with the media, the candidates tested on their understanding of certain weapons.
After completing all of the events and returning to the starting point, the Soldiers quickly changed into their Army Service Uniform and prepared to go before a board. There, they would face questions about Army regulations and doctrine from the brigade's senior noncommissioned officers.
The troops earned points based on their answers to the questions, their ability to maintain their military bearing, and the overall appearance of the Soldier in uniform.
"The board portion is the event I'm most nervous about," said Sgt. Jonathan Serna, a satellite communications NCO from HHT, 3rd BCT. "I'm not comfortable standing there on display in front of everyone."
After all the competitors went through the board, their points were tallied and Sgt. Zachary Henderson, a cavalry scout from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, was named the NCO of the Quarter.
Spc. Francielyn Chambers, a military intelligence Soldier with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, was awarded the title of Soldier of the Quarter.
"I gave it my best throughout the whole competition," said Henderson, a Springfield, Mo., native. "I think my determination pushed me ahead of the others."