The best of the best noncommissioned officers and Soldiers from throughout XVIII Airborne Corps came to Fort Bragg to compete in the corps NCO and Soldier of the Year competition June 10 to 13.
This year's competition tested the mettle of 22 competitors including 10 Soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg. After the intense competition spanning 96-hours, the top NCO and Soldier were announced.
Staff Sgt. Woodruff Musser, 10th Mountain Division (light infantry) was named the XVIII Abn. Corps NCO of the Year and Spc. Thomas Dejesus-Perez, 3rd Infantry Division was named XVIII Abn. Corps Soldier of the Year during an awards ceremony, June 14 at McKellar's Lodge.
Both winners will represent the corps at the U.S. Army Forces Command competition NCO and Soldier of the Year competition.
The 2016 competition was redesigned to serve as a crucible with Soldiers competing during challenging events beginning with an Army physical fitness test and air assault obstacle course.
"They were then immediately inserted into a grueling 62-hour field competition that stressed them physically, mentally, and emotionally in some of the hottest conditions," explained Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg command sergeant major.
Marching more than 50 miles with 35-pound ruck sacks through rigorous terrain, the competitors were required to complete more than 150 tasks along the movement. They were also tested on weapons knowledge, medical tasks, battle drills and a written essay.
"Not only did they conduct a day and night land navigation course but also, a scenario-based navigation lane were they had to extract critical information from a written order given to them, to move from one navigation point to another and at times while wearing their protective mask," Jones said.
The competition culminated with the participants appearing in front of a board of division command sergeants major who evaluated their military appearance, bearing and knowledge. The board event also included a written exam that tested their general military knowledge.
"They have successfully proven their mettle and demonstrated commitment to the Army values. These extraordinary Soldiers embody the Warrior Ethos in all aspects and represent the XVIII Airborne Corps, the U.S. Army, and the Force of the Future," Jones said.