FORT KNOX, Ky. (June 9, 2016) -- After a week of tough competition, three soldiers who are the best of the best Fort Knox has to offer were recognized for winning the Cadet Command and Fort Knox Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year ceremony held at the Patton Museum June 9.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Iozzo, a military science instructor for the University of Toledo, was named the NCO of the Year for Cadet Command. Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Riddell, from Army Human Resources Command, won the NCO of the Year spot for Fort Knox. And Spc. Tyrell Creese, from Army Human Resources Command, was named the Fort Knox Soldier of the Year.

The Soldiers battled it out over a week by being tested on land navigation, an obstacle course, rifle marksmanship, a written test, an essay, an oral board paneled by six sergeants major, an Army Physical Fitness Test, and a 10-mile road march.

Fort Knox's newest member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club was also inducted during the event, Sgt. First Class Melissa Porter, from Army Human Resources Command.

The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is an elite organization of Noncommissioned Officers who have demonstrated performance and inherent leadership qualities and abilities characterized by those of Sergeant Audie Murphy.

During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Arnold, Command Sergeant Major for U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, said it takes a certain kind of Soldier to excel in competitions such as the NCO/SOY.

"It takes, competence, character, commitment, and most importantly personal courage, to step forward and test yourself against your peers - to strive for excellence not knowing the outcome," he said. "It takes drive and good old fashioned grit to finish regardless of the task in front of you. I'm confident that every Soldier who competed is better for it."

Command Sgt. Maj. Royce Manis, Command Sergeant Major for First Army Division East, said he would be proud to have any of the competitors in his unit.

"This group recognizes the best of the best. It takes a lot to just step out in front of your fellow Soldiers. Who better would you want leading than Soldiers who are willing to step up and compete in a competition like this?" he said. "Those of you who are stepping forward, you are the exact people I would want in my formations. You are the example of the American fighting Soldier."

Manis added, it takes a team to build any leader, as he also thanked the competitors Family Members and leadership for their support of their Soldier.

Creese, who was competing for the second time, said he's learned there are several lessons any Soldier can take away from taking part in a competition like this.

"I feel others should compete because this competition challenges each and every Soldier," he said. "It is a wonderful opportunity for comradery amongst the Soldiers. By competing in this competition, there are no losers - each competitor is better for competing."

Creese added, preparation is the key to success.

"I recommend competitors take serious personal time out of each day and study. It requires a lot of personal time, but it is definitely worth the reward," he said.

Riddell said he thinks competitions such as NCO/SOY is a great way to see how prepared one is as a Soldier.

"You should wake up every day wanting to be the best. They only way to know is to test yourself," he said. "Stay physically fit, push your physical and mental limitation, and know your skill level one to skill level four tasks - get out of your comfort zone and compete."