By Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeJune 19, 2017
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- (June 19, 2017) Two Mission and Installation Contracting Command Soldiers were among the seven vying for distinction as the Army Contracting Command Best Warrior and Non-commissioned Officer of the Year June 5-9 at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Conrad from the 614th Contracting Team at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Staff Sgt. David Timmons of the 741st Contracting Team at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were pitted against five other ACC Soldiers from the contracting military occupational specialty in a series of events aimed at testing their physical and mental readiness.
Staff Sgt. Jared Casey, a contract specialist with the 409th Contracting Support Brigade at Sembach, Germany, was named the competition winner by ACC officials during a ceremony June 9 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
"The 51 Charlie field has definitely stepped up to the challenge. We have some of the most competent professionals," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jose Castillo, the command sergeant major for ACC at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. "My intent was for them to be more tactical coming into this organization. Everything about this MOS and this unit has increased their tactical expertise. That's exactly what the Army wants us to do in reference to readiness, and we're doing it."
Conrad, a native of Medina, Ohio, competed after earning honors as the MICC NCO of the quarter in December. He drew on that experience and this month's competition in an effort to better represent the Army.
"I believe in being a professional in all that I do, even when no one is watching," he said. "I also believe in helping to better my peers and subordinates and learning from them as well. In the end, I continue to be the best NCO I can be."
Timmons, who hails from Loveland, Ohio, said it was the appeal of working with the future of the career field that attracted him to compete in the best warrior competition.
"These Soldiers are the best that our MOS has to offer, and it will provide me with the motivation to go back to my unit and continue developing my skills to become a better NCO and motivate my peers."
On the first day of competition, Castillo asked all competitors to draw on the inspiration of family and loved ones as they attempt to perform their best throughout the five days of events. For both Timmons and Conrad, that appeal invoked memories of their grandfathers' service during World War II and fathers during the Vietnam War era.
While that service motivated both to serve their nation, each also understood that today's Army offered much more. For Conrad, it was an opportunity to advance his education. He completed a Bachelor of Science Business Administration from Post University this year. Timmons sought benefits beyond the classroom.
"After completing college, I realized I had very little experience and leadership to enter the workforce," said Timmons, who holds a Master in Business Administration from Webster University. "I hoped that three years of service would provide me with the skills needed to go back to teaching a classroom. After my initial enlistment, I chose to stay because of the opportunities the Army provides."
Both Timmons and Conrad said they elected the 51 Charlie MOS to gain training and experience in contracting due to the transferability of skills to the civil sector.
Competition events included the Army physical fitness test, weapons proficiency, combatives, obstacle course, day and night land navigation and water survival. Soldiers also faced a variety of situational exercises both day and night involving ambush and chemical weapons attacks that affirmed their competence in radio communications, ordnance identification and casualty treatment all while under direct fire -- scenarios all designed to develop a ready Soldier.
Conrad bested all competitors in a 12-mile march in which Soldiers carried a 35-pound ruck by finishing with a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes.
"The ruck march was definitely a tough one. It definitely seemed like there were a lot more uphills than downhills. It made me learn about myself and my capabilities," the 42-year-old said.
The intensity of the competition operations tempo forced Soldiers to deliberately hone their tactical skills while accomplishing objectives.
"A lot of people think that because you're in contracting, you don't have to worry about your tactical skills," Conrad added. "It's actually one of our priorities as a Soldier … because at any time you could find yourself in a situation where you will have to use those skills."
Soldiers in the 51 Charlie MOS employ those tactical skills regularly during deployments in support of operations and contingencies around the globe. Timmons returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in June 2016 and Conrad is preparing to deploy in the coming weeks.
Headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, ACC is responsible for delivering contracting solutions in support of the Army and unified land operations. It consists of six major contracting centers and two subordinate commands.