By Staff Sgt. Christopher McCulloughMay 11, 2017
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Twenty Soldiers and noncommissioned officers representing eighteen different commands from across the Pacific gathered in Hawaii, April 30 to May 5, 2017, to compete for U.S. Army Pacific Best Paralegal Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
The tenth annual Best Paralegal Competition was sponsored by the Judge Advocate General Corps, U.S. Army, Pacific as a way to recognize the best Soldiers and NCOs in their career field.
"It [Best Paralegal Competition] brings the top paralegal NCOs and Soldiers together to not only compete against one another to determine a winner but to learn from each other as well," said Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah M. Fassler, command paralegal noncommissioned officer in charge. "In addition to the four and a half days of competition they also receive current operational law training specific to the Pacific and the Soldiers are able to return to their commands with that information."
Over the course of the week competitors were challenged by a series of mentally and physically activities at various locations across the island of Oahu at locations on Fort Shafter, Aliamanu Military Reservation, and Schofield Barracks.
This year's competitors were Soldiers and NCOs in the ranks of private first class to staff sergeant, and hailed from both active and reserve components.
The week began with basic warrior tasks and skills, as well as an oral board on Monday. It continued with land navigation, an obstacle course, a 12-mile ruck march, and a physical fitness assessment, as well as being tested on a variety of academic skills.
"The competition is balanced out over four and a half days with half of the events physically soldier based, which really applies to the tenants of readiness and being fit and ready to go, and the other half have to do with technical competencies -- how well they can do as a Paralegal, balancing out their dual profession as a Soldier and a Paralegal," Fassler said.
The Best Paralegal Soldier and NCO were recognized on May 5, during the U.S. Army, Pacific, Law Day Dining-Out. The event was attended by over 190 members of the Judge Advocate General's Corps and their guests.
This year's winners were Sgt. Weng Ong representing 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and Spc. Bryan Phan, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA representing I Corps. Both received the Army Commendation Medal and awards from Veteran's United and the Judge Advocates General's Retired Non-Commissioned Officer Association. All participants received certificates of achievements.
Ong knows a thing or two about the annual competition. In 2014 he won the event as an enlisted soldier when he was with the 45th Sustainment Brigade. He also helped tutor last year's winner, Spc. Timothy Snyder.
New to the Best Warrior Competition was the Stewardship Award. The Stewardship award went to Spc. Leah Phipps from the 9th Mission Support Command, Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii. The Stewardship Award, which is voted on by all of the competitors and given to NCO or Soldier who best embodied good stewardship of the profession by displaying esprit de corps, motivation, and the spirit of teamwork.
"It was an honor to observe the men and women in this competition. Each of them sacrificed personally and professionally to get here, often winning local warrior challenge competitions at their home stations in Hawaii, Korea, Japan, Alaska, or Fort Lewis. They are dedicated Soldiers and paralegal professionals who represent the very best of their generation, and who are the future of the JAG Corps and our Army," said Col. George Smawley, USARPAC staff judge advocate.