The winners of the 2017 U.S. Army Human Resources Command Best Warrior competition were announced during a ceremony held at the Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude complex on Fort Knox, Kentucky, May 12.
Sgt. 1st Class Francis Reyes, an Active Guard and Reserve Soldier assigned to the Army Reserve Enlisted Division at HRC took the top honor as Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Newly promoted, Sgt. Kandy Christian, assigned to the Personnel Information Systems Directorate at HRC, was named HRC Soldier of the Year.
For four days of competition, 67 support personnel challenged and evaluated six Soldiers on basic Army Warrior Tasks and drills including physical fitness, rifle marksmanship, and basic battle drills to see who would advance to the Fort Knox Installation competition held on Post 21-25 May.
Getting back to the basics was a key, motivating factor for Christian's participation in the competition.
"I wanted to get out of the office and re-learn some of what it takes to be a Soldier," she said. "I would definitely do this competition again and I would recommend it to any Soldier in my division."
"This was a good experience. It takes a lot out of you but it takes you back to the basics of Soldier skills; all of those things we don't do on a daily basis here (at HRC)."
"This was something I can use when I get back out into the field. As an AGR in the Army Reserve we don't have the same opportunity to host a Soldier of the Quarter or Soldier of the Month competition the way we do here. I can take the experience that I just went through and try to implement it in other units so Soldiers can experience something similar," he said.
Reyes said separating himself from his peers was also a major motivating factor for him competing.
"When I retire, I don't want to look back on my career and have any regrets of not pushing myself. I want to say I took advantage of everything that the Army offered me."
Sgt. 1st Class Steven Vaughn, Professional Development NCO with HRC, was the first runner up for Noncommissioned Officer of the Year in the competition and will join Reyes at the Installation competition.
"This competition was me stepping outside of the box and not being just a cubicle NCO. This was me saying to this organization, hey I'm here and this is what I'm capable of," he said. "I would tell all Soldiers in this unit to keep challenging and pushing themselves. As a benefit of being here, you have more time accomplish goal-setting things for yourself and you need to take advantage of that."
Other competitors like Staff Sergeant Grace Altaya, also with the Army Reserve Enlisted Division at HRC, used the competition to prepare themselves for future assignments.
"This was a great opportunity to hone the 10 and 20 level skills that I need to know as an NCO, so that when I get back to operational Army I can be a better leader for the junior Soldiers," Altaya said. "I think it will also help me in the event I sponsor a Soldier who may be going through a competition similar to this in the future."
The Army's Best Warrior competition is now in its 16th year. In all, 20 Soldiers from across the Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard will compete for the title of Department of the Army Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year later this fall.