By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderJune 19, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (June 19, 2014) -- Ten Fort Jackson Soldiers put their physical and mental skills to the test last week in a series of competitions designed find the post's best and brightest.
At the end of the week's challenges, four Soldiers were selected as Fort Jackson's best Soldier, NCO, platoon sergeant and drill sergeant of 2014:
-- Staff Sgt. Jason Oberle, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, was named Drill Sergeant of the Year.
-- Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Dunham, 187th Ordnance Battalion, was named Platoon Sergeant of the Year.
-- Staff Sgt. Christina Stentiford, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was named NCO of the Year.
-- Pfc. Marissa Santos, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, was named Soldier of the Year.
"Over the last few days, this group of Soldiers and noncommissioned officers participated in a fairly rigorous competition," said Post Command Sgt. Maj. William Hain during last week's awards ceremony. "This is an incredible group. Regardless of where they placed, they all did very, very well."
The competition spanned three days and required Soldiers to demonstrate a firm understanding of a variety of warrior tasks and battle drills. The tasks varied depending on the category in which the Soldiers were participating, but Hain said the challenges tested their knowledge of land navigation, medical and weapons skills and their familiarity with drill and ceremony.
The final day included a 10-mile foot march and a board review.
The winners of this competition go on to compete at TRADOC-level competitions later this year.
"It was one hell of a competition," said Dunham, Platoon Sergeant of the Year. "It beat me up, but in the end I'm glad I did it."
He said the road march was the most difficult task for him, primarily because it followed a night without sleep.
"Hopefully, next time I'll be more prepared physically and be ready for the TRADOC competition in September," he said.
"This means a lot to me," said Santos, the post's Soldier of the Year. "It was a really great experience and will really motivate me to pursue a career in the Army."
Santos said she enlisted in the Army 19 months ago in order to become more independent.
"I'm actually the first female in my family to join the military," Santos said. "I love every day of it, and it makes me proud of who I am."
Oberle, the installation's Drill Sergeant of the Year, said the competition was about achieving a goal he had set for himself.
"I've been doing a lot of physical training, doing the obstacle course and running those to see what kind of times I was posting," Oberle said. "And I've been doing a lot of shooting, a lot of training on warrior tasks and battle drills to make sure I had a firm grasp on the information."
"It was a challenge I put in front of myself, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it," said Stentiford, the NCO of the Year. "The board is always the hardest part. There's a lot of studying; you just study those topics the best you can."