CAMP CASEY -- Warrior Country senior leaders backed by the rousing strains of a military band took time March 5 to honor winners of the coveted Area I Commander's Cup competition, which for the first time no longer scores units on sports performance only but now also counts whether they take part in a broad set of other resilience-building activities.
Those activities include such things as recreational outings, community volunteerism, and college enrollment, among others.
In a noon ceremony inside the high-ceilinged gym of the Carey Physical Fitness Center on Camp Casey, senior leaders took the stage to present awards to first-, second-, and third-place winners -- nine in all -- in three unit size categories: large (more than 150 personnel); medium (75 -- 150 personnel); small (fewer than 75).
A silver-topped traveling trophy and other prizes went to the first-place winners: large, Company C, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, (company commander Capt. Sean Hayes and 1st Sgt. David Reickmann; medium, 61st CBRN Company, (company commander Capt. Timothy Cox and 1st Sgt. LaKeela L. Walker; small: Company D, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, (company commander Capt. Joshua D. Dial and 1st Sgt. Stephen Garrett)
Presenting the awards were Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Col. John M. Scott, Commander, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I, and other senior leaders. The ceremony began and ended with members of the 2nd Infantry Division Band playing various marches, among them, "American Finale," "Semper Fidelis," and the 2nd Infantry Division's official march, "The Warrior March."
"Today's a big deal," Scott told the audience of winning units, the top three of which stood in formation behind their unit guidons on the blue-tarped gym floor.
"The troopers that are standing in formation right now represent a lot of hard work and dedication for something that means something to themselves personally," Scott said before introducing Vandal as the guest speaker.
"Yes, we're here recognizing company command teams and company Soldiers in formation," said Scott. "But the program is about bettering yourself, making yourself stronger and more resilient. These programs exist for our community and our Soldiers."
The 2013 Commander's Cup competition ran from July 1 to December 31, and involved more than 8,200 service members from a total of 72 units stationed in Area I. Participating units included those of the 2nd Infantry Division, USAG Red Cloud and Area I, Eighth U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force, among others, said Capt. Eric Vivino of USAG Red Cloud and Area I's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
To earn points, units had to participate in activities connected with a designated list of Army programs that aim to foster resilience among service members.
These activities included Better Opportunities for Single (and unaccompanied) Soldiers, or BOSS program; volunteer participation in support of BOSS events; maintaining an active unit social media campaign, participation in Warrior Adventure Quest events; participation in events put on by the USAG Red Cloud and Area I's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; participation in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention training; the First Sergeant Barracks Program; enrollment in college courses; number of volunteer hours given to community service and logged on the Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS); and performance in Area I sporting events, 21 of which were held within the July -- December Commander's Cup scoring period, Vivino said.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Vandal underscored the value of the expanded scoring categories.
"Other posts, other assignments I've been to," said Vandal, "it was just about a sports cup. When you played football or you played basketball, whatever, and you won. And that's great. Because that's important. 'Cause we're all warriors. We all compete. But this competition's bigger than that. This competition is holistic. About company leadership. …This is about command climate, unit esprit."
Cpl. Brandon Clark, 23, a member of the 61st Chemical Company, helped score Commander's Cup points for his unit by taking part in basketball, several five-kilometer runs, a hiking trip to a mountain in Uijeongbu, and a day trip that involved zip lining, bungee jumping and water rafting. He also took two college courses, one a Korean language class, the other an introduction to psychology.
"We were all excited about it," Clark said of his fellow-Soldiers. "Because we knew that we had all participated in all these types of events and we were motivated by our leadership to actually take part in these college courses and all these events that actually help out the community."
He was excited when he heard his unit was a first-place winner. "It's nice to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication that us as soldiers and the command team put into our company," Clark said.
The 2014 Commander's Cup scoring period runs from January 1 - July 1 under the same newly expanded scoring criteria.