By Randall BaucomDecember 5, 2017
FORT HUACHUCA, Arizona -- It is said that "Competition Breeds Excellence". It is in that spirit and the desire to build and improve leaders and Soldiers that the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade held its Platoon Sergeant, Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), and Soldier of the Quarter Competition at Fort Huachuca 14 to 17 Nov.
The grueling four-day competition that drew upon each competitors physical and mental prowess combined weapons proficiency, land navigation, squad tactics, drill and ceremony, a 12-mile ruck march, an obstacle course, and a formal board.
Staff Sgt. James Russell, who won Platoon Sergeant of the Quarter, from the 305th Military Intelligence Bn. said, "The toughest aspect of the competition were the back to back, no notice, physical events that did not provide ample time to recover. I have competed in Brigade and MACOM (Major Command) competitions before, but the competition here was one of most challenging."
Spc. Zain Shaito, who won Soldier of the Quarter, from the Headquarters, 111th Military Intelligence Bde., agreed with Russell.
"The hardest aspect of competing in this competition is the back to back events with no real room for recovery."
For Staff Sgt. William Smithe, who won NCO of the Quarter, from the 344th Military Intelligence Bn. located at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, said the elevation of Fort Huachuca made the competition more difficult.
"I will be training with an elevation mask, back in Texas, before I return to compete in the NCO of the Year competition next year."
All three competitors said that the mental aspects of the competition were just as challenging as the physical aspects.
"I studied as much as I could while juggling responsibilities of a Platoon of over 130 Soldiers, and worked with my peers to improve my general military knowledge. I set aside about an hour and a half each night to read military publications, including the Manual for Courts Martial and the rest of the board MOI (Memorandum of Instruction)," said Russell.
Smithe approached his preparation for the competition in same way.
"I had a bunch of people help me. Staff Sgt. Misty Estrada, who won first quarter, was the most helpful. She prepared me for all the events, but mostly the board. Staff Sgt. Kevin Moore also helped by assisting me study for the board as well as being a member of one of my mock boards. Sgt. 1st. Class Fernando Torres, was my sponsor and helped me study. Finally, 1st. Sgt. Kinski Lewis who held a mock board for me to help me prepare. I am glad that I have as much support from my unit as I currently do," said Smithe.
Just like Russell and Smithe, Shaito credits the assistance from his chain of command and peers for his preparation for the competition.
"I have to thank my Platoon Sergeant and sponsor, Staff Sgt. Kendra Rayburn and Sgt. First Class Richard Garcia, for helping me prepare for this competition."
All three competitors will return for the Brigade Platoon Sergeant, NCO, and Soldier of the Year competition scheduled next year in the hopes of representing their units in a TRADOC-wide competition.