FORT EUSTIS, Va. (April 24, 2015) -- The 597th Transportation Brigade recognized its "Best Warriors" yesterday by naming Pfc. David Dell, 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, 833rd Transportation Battalion as Soldier of the Year and Staff Sgt. Armond Evanscott, 841st Transportation Battalion, as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
Dell and Evanscott competed against fellow Soldiers from six other units within the brigade over a four day period of challenging and often grueling competitions.
The warriors were scored on a variety of Soldier related tasks such as day and night land navigation, Warrior Task Battle Drills, an obstacle course, written examinations and a "mystery event."
This year's mystery event was difficult because it required the challengers to correctly place the awards, insignia and accessories on the Army Service Uniforms -- Dress Blues -- of Soldiers of the opposite gender, and was not announced until moments before the start of that competition.
"For Non-Commissioned Officers to be able to inspect their troops properly, they need to be knowledgeable in the wear of all army uniforms," said Command Sgt. Maj. Alveno Hodge, 597th Transportation Brigade command sergeant major. "Not just their own, but also the uniforms of the opposite gender."
Spc. Jacqueline Enchautegui, representing the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, saw the value of the mystery event and a possible tactical advantage in the competition.
"I thought that it was a really good challenge to do as a mystery event, because not every Soldier knows the layout of the opposite sex's uniform," Enchautegui said.
The final event in the competition was a grueling six-mile road march in which each Soldier competed against the clock to finish first.
For 688th Rapid Port Opening Element Soldier, Staff Sgt. Dominique Curry, completing the road march was mind over matter.
"For me it was straight willpower, determination and motivation, baby," Curry said. "You've got to motivate yourself!"
For Evanscott, he had other difficulties to overcome.
"I had to push through the pain," he said. "I had pretty bad shin splints, so the hardest part was definitely pushing through the pain and overcoming it".
Pfc. Dell and Staff Sgt. Evanscott were both awarded Army Achievement Medals in a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Eustis. In addition to the medals, both were given reserved parking spaces in front of their units and the brigade headquarters for the next year - a valuable prize considering parking is sometimes sparse on the base.
"Being named the Brigade's Best Warrior is a huge deal," said Command Sgt. Maj. Alveno Hodge, 597th Transportation Brigade Command Sergeant Major. "As the Army works to reduce its size while increasing its capabilities, the Army is looking for Soldiers and leaders who stand out among their peers. It is looking to retain the cream of the crop. Our Best Warriors are just that."
Dell and Evanscott will now move on to compete against Soldiers from other brigades within the U.S. Army Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in late May.
When asked about having been selected as NCO of the Year, Evanscott was both humbled and excited about being selected.
"It's an honor to have competed with such a high caliber of NCO's and Soldiers. It has motivated me to be able to do my best at the next level," Evanscott said. "I am very excited for the next level and have a lot of work to do."