By Paul Levesque, ASC Public AffairsJuly 29, 2014
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- The best noncommissioned officer and the best Soldier in the Army Materiel Command are both assigned to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
That bold statement is based on the results of AMC's Best Warrior competition, conducted here at the site of ASC Headquarters, July 28-29. At an awards luncheon held at the conclusion of the competition, Staff Sgt. Kevin Hopson was named AMC's NCO of the Year, and Pfc. Davonta Colflesh was named AMC's Soldier of the Year.
Hopson and Colflesh will both go on to compete in the Army-wide Best Warrior competition, scheduled for October.
"Competing and winning at this level is a monumental achievement," said Command Sgt. Maj. James Spencer, the ASC top-ranking NCO. "Pfc. Colflesh and Staff Sgt. Hopson are exceptional Soldiers and are well prepared to compete and win at the Army level. They have lived up to our motto of 'On the Line.'"
A native of North Powder, Ore., Hopson has served in the Army since 2005 and has been deployed both to Iraq and Afghanistan. He presently serves as the Force Protection NCO at ASC Headquarters.
"My motivation throughout competing has been my son," said Hopson. "When I became a father a year ago, I started thinking more about my actions and behavior and how they would affect my son. By training for, competing in, and winning these competitions, I want to teach my son that a quality work ethic and refusing to quit can accomplish almost anything."
Colflesh, a Lufkin, Texas, native who enlisted in the Army in January 2013, is assigned to ASC's 403rd Army Field Support Brigade in Daegu, Korea, where he serves as a transportation counselor.
The AMC Best Warrior competition included 11 events that tested a variety of military skills and knowledge in a high-pressure atmosphere. A total of eight competitors -- three Soldiers and five NCOs -- competed for AMC's Best Warrior titles and earned points based on their performance in specific events.
Out of a perfect score of 500 points, Hopson won among his fellow NCOs with 339 points, while Colflesh topped his portion of the competition with 269 points, a score that was third overall.
Finishing as runner-up in the NCO of the Year competition, just 18 points behind Hopson, was Staff Sgt. Eliud Temblador, a contracting specialist assigned to the 729th Contracting Center, 413th Contracting Support Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The other NCOs from AMC who competed for the Best Warrior title were Sgt. Gunnar Kallstrom, a guitarist assigned to the AMC Band at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; Staff Sgt. Carlos Gastelu, a cargo specialist with the 841st Transportation Battalion in Charleston, S.C.; and Staff Sgt. David Carter, an electronic warfare intercept strategic system maintenance repairer assigned to the Research Development and Engineering Command's Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Spc. Marsha Diana Feightner, a cargo specialist with the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element at Joint Base Langley Eustis, Va., was runner-up in the Soldier of the Year competition. The other competitor was Spc. Alisha Bailey, a percussionist assigned to the Army Materiel Command band at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
The eight competitors arrived at Rock Island Arsenal on July 27 and spent the evening getting the gear and instructions needed for the competition. The competition began in earnest the next day, with events starting at 4:30 a.m. and continuing for 14 hours.
Events included the Army Physical Fitness Test; a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear station, where the competitors donned protective gear and decontaminated themselves and their equipment; an essay and exam; and a station where competitors were tested on their ability to reassemble weapons that had been taken apart.
Competitors also went through a realistic Situational Training Exercise which included moving under direct fire; moving through and around obstacles; encountering civilians and searching vehicles while staffing a checkpoint; hand-to-hand combat; and evaluating, administering aid to, and evacuating casualties.
At an indoor range, competitors were measured in their proficiency on the M4 carbine rifle, with a twist: They fired the weapon with the opposite hand, with right-handers made to shoot left-handed and vice versa.
Each competitor also completed a "mystery event" unknown in advance that included three parts: Assembling a proper Class B uniform (with females required to assemble a male's uniform, and vice versa); performing the manual of arms; and leading a physical readiness training session.
The second day of competition was highlighted by an appearance before a board headed by Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims, AMC's top NCO. The rest of the board was made up of command sergeants major from other AMC commands and organizations.
At the awards luncheon, Sims thanked ASC Headquarters and Rock Island Arsenal for the work done to sponsor and conduct the competition. He praised all eight competitors for being excellent representatives of AMC.
"You volunteered to compete and stepped up to the plate," Sims said, "and I'm very proud of all of you.
"The most important thing gained out of this competition was the experience," Sims added, "and I hope that you go back to your home installations and share what you learned with your fellow Soldiers."
Speaking of Hopson and Colflesh, Sims said: "We celebrate them today, but the training for these two begins tomorrow. They're the best in AMC, and I know they'll give it their very best in the Army Best Warrior competition."