By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)May 12, 2016
The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood's Staff Judge Advocate office held a new competition to determine the best paralegal noncommissioned officer and Soldier May 5.
Sgt. Abigail Imhof, trial defense services noncommissioned officer in charge, and Spc. Javier Torres, paralegal specialist, ended the one-day competition as the best of their peers.
"We really had to be at the top of our game in order to win," Imhof, the Paralegal NCO of the Year, said. "It feels really great to know we have leadership who is willing to allow us the opportunity to compete for something like this."
The day started early for competitors with an Army Physical Fitness Test, marksmanship at the Engagement Skills Trainer, battle-drill stations that included first aid, map reading and rifle familiarization. The events continued with drill and ceremony, a written exam and finished with an oral board.
The JAG Corps hosts an annual competition in Virginia where Fort Leonard Wood has not had representation. Because of this, Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Ko, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood chief paralegal NCO, said he wanted to start, and hold regular quarterly boards to give the Soldiers a chance to represent Fort Leonard Wood at the Army level in Virginia.
But holding this competition wasn't just about sending a representative to the Army-level competition. It was about developing Soldier skills for paralegals on post, Ko said.
"I wanted to create this for Soldiers to have an opportunity to come out and show they are not just a paralegal, they are Soldiers," Ko said. "I've challenged them and I'm going to set the standard high."
Imhof and Torres agreed, saying it was about more than the title at the end of the day.
"It's more than just a competition," Imhof said. "It really is preparation for our job as a Soldier more than just a paralegal."
"We usually just sit behind a desk and push paperwork all day," Torres added. "Having this one day to do basic Soldier stuff was amazing."
Col. Charles Kirchmaier, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood staff judge advocate, said he was happy to see his Soldiers motivated to participate.
"I am very proud of you stepping up and trying to up your game," he said.
In the end, Ko said, it's about more than just being a paralegal.
"The Soldiers who competed are already two steps above everyone else amongst their peers," he said.
For the rest of the paralegals on post, Ko offered some motivation to be ready for the quarterly competition.
"Challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone," Ko said.