Paralegal Soldiers "judged" in USARPAC competition
Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie,
USARPAC Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (September 12, 2008) -After an uninterrupted Army Physical Fitness Test, a 100 meter swim, a pull-up contest, a correspondence memorandum review and a 3-to-5 mile urban orienteering contest, most would be ready for a break, but at the U.S. Army, Pacific first annual Paralegal Challenge, the 12 competitors were met with a final mental challenge - an Article 15 Review.
And that was day one.
"Every mental test we mixed in with the physical events, so they're performing under stress, such as reviewing a correspondence memorandum, or an Article 15," said Master Sgt. Barbara Rubio, USARPAC chief paralegal and non-commissioned officer in charge of the event.
From Sept. 8 through 12, competing paralegals staff sergeant and below competed in 10 events, followed by a senior paralegal conference.
The verdict' Spc. Harley Jordan, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, placed first with the Soldiers, E4 and below. Staff Sgt. Juan Santiago, USARPAC Administrative Civil Law, placed first with the non-commissioned officers, E6 and E5.
"It was an awesome opportunity to build esprit de corps and simultaneously meet individuals from our job field, especially because the field is so small that we're bound to run into one another through the course of our careers," commented Santiago.
Soldiers flew from commands as far away as Alaska, Japan and Okinawa to compete. A variety of commands from Hawaii were additionally represented, to include the 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Military Police Brigade, 500th Military Intelligence Bde , 311th Theater Signal Command, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and 8th TSC.
"It's about networking, NCO development, and camaraderie," said Rubio. "It's a chance for us to come together, which we rarely get to do in our job. So, for the younger Soldiers, it's the competition, but it is also about the networking. Getting to know who is in what units, so that way if you need assistance, you know who you can turn to."
Other events included Warrior Task Training in conjunction with a chapter review and a sergeant major oral board, hosted by a panel of senior paralegals.
"It's a good opportunity to get us out of the office and work on our soldiering skills," said Sgt. Ryan Gabrukiewicz, 8th TSC NCOIC for division legal assistance office. Gabrukiewicz felt fully challenged by the combined events.
"Your whole body is exhausted, but you still have to try to put forth the effort to try to comprehend what you're reading," he said. "I was reading words but I couldn't comprehend what was on the sheet."
Competing Soldiers were awarded points per event, with the winner chosen by highest number of points scored. "At the end of the day, I think, what did I get from it, who did I meet," said Private Laqwen Cannette, 130th Engineer Bde. "We'll see each other again, it's low density, and a small job field, so we'll probably work together at some time."
Senior paralegal NCOs from throughout the Pacific were also involved in the event, first as graders, and finally with a senior paralegal conference, held Sept. 11 and 12.
"Every senior NCO we have is an NCOIC of an event or a grader of several of the events, so they are learning how to manage and lead from their level," Rubio stated.
The conference featured a virtual tele-conference with the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va., which included classes on requisitions and authorizations among other technically-related subjects and guest speaker, Command Sgt Maj.Shannon Boyer, JAG school commandant.
"The conference is geared towards E6s and E7s, to mentor them into the chief paralegal position, which is the management of the JAG offices," said Rubio.
The event closed with a visit to Pearl Harbor and Hanauma Bay, a national ecological reserve, and an awards dinner at Ford Island.
The Association of the U.S. Army, Staff Judge Advocate and the sergeants majors association contributed to the challenge, to which Rubio attributes the success of the program.
"USARPAC has been a huge support, the command group, USARPAC Command Sgt. Maj. [Joseph] Zettlemoyer, they're the ones that helped me reach out to the other commands and fund it to get everybody involved, and to project for next year's budget, so we are already planning for next year's challenge," said Rubio.
Participants agreed that they would be interested in future paralegal challenges.
"I would definitely do this again," said Gabrukiewicz. "I know that mechanics, cooks, and rangers have their challenge, now we have the paralegal challenge. Definitely one for the record books for this year."

SCHOFIELD BARACKS, Hawaii - PARALEGAL CHALLENGE! Moments after completing a PT test, 10 meter swim and pull-up/hanging event, competing paralegals from throughout the U.S. Army, Pacific, must wipe the sweat away and review correspondence memorandums. "These 12 Soldiers do every event under stress," said Master Sgt. Barbara Rubio, chief paralegal, USARPAC, and non-commissioned officer in charge of the two-day event. The Paralegal Challenge, a competition open to E6 and below, combines physical challenges simultaneously with mental activities, including other events such as urban orienteering and Article 15 Reviews. Judges are comprised of E7 and above paralegals. Staff Sgt. Juan Santiago, USARPAC administrative civil law NCO, pictured here, placed first with the NCOs.(photo by Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie, USARPAC Public Affairs)

SCHOFIELD BARACKS, Hawaii - PARALEGALS CAN HANG. Competing paralegals from throughout the U.S. Army, Pacific, attempt to hang during the Paralegal Challenge. The hanging event immediately followed an APFT test and 100 meter swim. Immediately afterwards, competitors sat down to a written challenge. The Paralegal Challenge, a competition open to E-6 and below, combines physical challenges simultaneously with mental activities, including other events such as urban orienteering and Article 15 Reviews. Judges were comprised of a panel senior paralegal non-commissioned officers.

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - A Paralegal Challenge competitor assesses a simulated table representing battle movement during Warrior Task Training. (photo by Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie, USARPAC Public Affairs)

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Private Laqwen Collette, a paralegal from the 130th Engineer Brigade, conducts first aid during the Warrior Task Training portion of the Paralegal Challenge. (photo by Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie, USARPAC Public Affairs)