By Florida National Guard Public AffairsMarch 12, 2009
STARKE, Fla. (March 10) - Two Florida Soldiers proved themselves as the "best of the best" when they were named the Florida Army National Guard's Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, during a banquet at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, recently.
Sgt. Ryan Doot was selected as the 2009 Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year and Spc. Joshua Page was selected as the 2009 Soldier of the Year.
Doot and Page competed against eight other Soldiers for the titles during the annual competition March 6-7, showing their prowess in physical fitness, warrior skills, land navigation marksmanship and knowledge of military programs. They were selected as the NCO and Soldier of the Year during an awards banquet at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, March 7.
Doot, who represented the 83rd Troop Command during the NCO of the Year competition, is assigned to 2153rd Finance Detachment, based in St. Augustine, Fla. Qualified as both an infantryman and a finance specialist, Doot has more than six years of military service and has deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is currently pursuing a degree in accounting.
He explained that although the competition was based on individual performance, everyone was committed to helping the other Soldiers and NCOs succeed and do their best.
Doot also completed the two-week Air Assault course at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on March 6, noting "It was harder than I expected it to be. The first four days they really challenged us to see who wanted to earn the badge and who wanted to quit."
Page, who represented the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade during the Soldier of the Year competition, is assigned to C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment, based in Plant City, Fla. Page joined the Florida National Guard in 2007, and serves as a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) crewmember. He is a teacher for Seminole County Public Schools in Sanford, Fla., and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree.
Later this spring Doot and Page will compete against National Guard Soldiers from other Southeastern states in a similar NCO/Soldier of the Year competition.
Also competing in this year's NCO of the Year competition were: Sgt. Rachel Gadell representing Joint Force Headquarters; Staff Sgt. Wendy Heddy representing the 50th Area Support Group; Sgt. David Lee representing the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Sgt. Gilbert Williams representing the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Also competing in the Soldier of the Year competition were: Pfc. Shane Hardwick representing Joint Force Headquarters; Spc. Myles Davis representing the 50th Area Support Group; Spc. Darryl Sookoonsingh representing the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Pfc. Bernard Funderburk representing the 83rd Troop Command.