WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- The winners of the Best Warrior competition are Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller, named NCO of the Year; and Spc. Robert Miller, named Soldier of the Year.

The winners were announced Monday, Oct. 3, during the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition. Following the announcement, the two Soldiers commented on their wins and offered their thoughts on what it means to be a Soldier and a Best Warrior.

SFC MOELLER

According to Moeller, all 20 of the competitors -- 10 NCOs and 10 Soldiers representing 10 major Army commands -- immediately bonded during the competition.

Moeller, who is a Reserve senior drill instructor, compared the bond between competitors to that of the drill sergeants' "tightknit community."

Regarding the competition, he said the most grueling test was the 12-mile road march, during which competitors tackled frequent changes in elevation, marching through the pitch black night and pouring rain.

"I'm a scout and I'm used to road marches," he said. "But this one was the toughest."

The second toughest, he said, was the day and night land navigation course, which took them through dense brush and swamps.

Moeller's advice to all Soldiers:

"Put forth your best effort. Even if you think it's not great, don't ever stop striving for the best you can do. It won't necessarily culminate in awards like this, but you're going to be rewarded. If we're chasing excellence every day, it's going to benefit the Army and America as a whole."

Moeller's girlfriend, Lisa Cho, flew here from Southern California and was on hand to share in Moeller's achievement. She called it an "unexpected surprise."

SPC MILLER

Best Warrior was "the healthiest competition I've been a part of," said Miller. "Everyone was looking to their left and right. Never was there any hostility between competitors. That's rare to find with a group of 20 tip-of-the-spear males. We all were right next to each other the whole time, rooting each other on. That was really cool for me."

As soon as the competition was over, Miller took a call from his mom. "She's been one of my biggest cheerleaders," he said.

He said he received support from the rest of his family as well as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community, which he called a "close brotherhood."

The specialist said his "phone has been blowing up with people texting me like crazy and congratulating me and loving me. It's been awesome."

He has been enjoying his time in Washington, D.C. to compete in Best Warrior. "Yesterday I got to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights," he said. "You realize the sacrifice others have made."

Miller's advice to all Soldiers (and his unit in particular):

"Never settle for anything less than your best effort. Keep pushing your boundaries. You'll never regret it."

MESSAGES FROM LEADERS

Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey spoke during the Best Warrior ceremony. Allyn said the competitors "represent what it means to be a trained and ready trusted professional." According to Dailey, the Best Warrior competition is about readiness.

"The competitors were using skills needed to survive on the battlefield to fight and win our nation's wars," he said.

He added: "Maybe you can be a Best Warrior. You can't, though, unless you try."

MORE ABOUT THE WINNERS

Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller is an Army Reserve cavalry scout now serving with the 108th Training Command in San Diego. He has served in the Army for 16 years and has deployed to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

He was born in Northridge, California, but calls nearby Riverside his hometown. He is looking to complete his bachelor's degree in engineering management and then plans to earn a master's degree in project management.

Spc. Robert Miller is an explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the 8th Military Police Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He has served in the Army nearly four years and has deployed to Kuwait.

Miller was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. He plans to complete a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.