By Maranda FlynnJune 5, 2014
After more than two days of intense physical and mental challenges, the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade announced Sgt. 1st Class Charles Sheffield, Company B, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, as the 2014 Advanced Individual Training Platoon Sergeant of the Year on Wednesday.
AIT platoon sergeants are top performing professional noncommissioned officers from virtually all branches of the Army who play a critical role in the success of Soldiers in AIT training. This competition simply narrows down the "best of the best."
Out of the three Soldiers who competed, Sheffield was selected based on his total score from the nine events performed throughout the competition.
This wasn't his first experience in this competition though. In last year's event, Sheffield came in second place. It seems as though his prior experience and knowledge worked to his advantage this time.
Participants were unaware of their ranking throughout the entire competition, and were given few details of what each challenge entailed.
"The way we have it set up, we don't want any of the competitors being able to see what the others are doing. So basically you are competing against yourself until the end," said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Correia, 111th MI Bde.
On Monday, the Soldiers participated in an Army Physical Fitness Test, where they each had two minutes to do as many push ups and sit ups as possible, and run 2 miles in the best time. They were also judged on conducting a physical training session.
Later that day, the competitors completed the land navigation event, where they each had to map and find four points in the least amount of time, while passing through rough terrain.
The day finished with testing the Soldier's knowledge of Army Warrior Tasks and how well they teach these tasks to AIT Soldiers. Events included: performing a function check on an M16 rifle; requesting medical evacuation; evaluating a casualty; and searching for an individual in a tactical environment.
On Tuesday, the Soldiers' day began at 5:30 a.m. with a 7-mile foot march in the dark while carrying a rucksack that weighed a minimum of 35 pounds. Immediately afterwards, they moved to the firing range where they had to qualify with an M4 carbine rifle.
As physical exhaustion set in, the competitors competed in a combatives tournament, testing their hand-to-hand combat ability.
On Wednesday, the final day, the Soldiers participated in a mystery event where they wrote an essay regarding what they would change in the AIT Platoon Sergeant Program as a whole.
Concluding the competition, they were each interviewed by a four-judge board.
Looking back on the challenges of the recent days, Sheffield said his favorite event was the APRT evaluation because "it encompasses our job to train, coach and mentor Soldiers. It's fun, too, because I like physical fitness kinds of stuff."
As a result of his win, Sheffield will go on to compete at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year Competition, Sept. 7 -- 13, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Sheffield said he likes being a platoon sergeant. "Like every job, it has its ups and downs, and some days are tougher than others," he said. "But at the end of the day it is rewarding because you are training the next generation of Soldiers that are going to defend the country when I decide I'm going to take the suit off."
The other competitors were Sgt. 1st Class Denise Ferniza, Company A, 305th MI Bn., and Sgt. 1st Class Luis Osejo, Company A, 344th MI Bn.