By Mr. Gordon Van VleetMay 25, 2018
A mother's love knows no bounds. That became evident during the NETCOM Best Warrior Award Ceremony, when the mother of one of the competitors exclaimed excitedly, "That's my SON!" upon hearing her child's name announced as competitors were introduced. Well, wouldn't you know it, later during the final announcement of the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year award, her son's name was once again called as the top NCO, and that was the icing on the cake. That was just a little taste of the joy felt when the winners were announced for the NETCOM Best Warrior competition, which ran from May 18 through May 24, at the NETCOM headquarters, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Earning the title as Soldier of the Year was Spc. Tyler Gadapee, from the 7th Signal Command (Theater), Fort Gordon, Ga., and earning the title of NCO of the Year was Sgt. 1st Class Deon (That's My Son) Myers also from the 7th.
The runner-ups for Soldier and NCO of the Year also came from the same command, the 311th Signal Command, Fort Shafter, Hi., as Spc. Yuchen Duan and Sgt. Mathew Hauffen were named.
But, that was not the whole story, as each competitor was able to demonstrate why they were selected to represent their parent command. "This was the best competition we've ever had," said the NETCOM Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry, as he went on to explain how the selection process was extremely difficult because of the high-caliber proficiency of each competitor.
The awards ceremony was lighthearted, yet professional, with the heraldry and pageantry you would expect to find with any military ceremony, but the competition was grueling and intense. Competitors competed against each other and against themselves as they pushed their bodies and their minds to their physical and mental limits.
The competition consisted of numerous events designed to test Soldier skills. Each had to test their ability in marksmanship, day and night land navigation, a selection of warrior tasks to include extracting and treating wounded comrades, and the skills necessary to take down and put back together numerous weapons.
The competition also included the 'infamous' obstacle course that took every ounce of effort to complete and a 12-mile road march on terrain that was anything but level. An event that started in the pre-dawn coolness found in the desert, but as the sun began to rise, so did the temperature, making for a rough go as each Soldier made their way to the finish line.
But, finish they did. Each showed why they earned the title of Best Warrior within their respective commands. As stated by Curry during the ceremony, each Soldier is a winner, which made the command's job of selecting the best among the best a daunting task.
The rest of the competitors were: Pfc. Andrew Feazelle and Staff Sgt. Brandon Vashon, representing the 2d Theater Signal Brigade, Wiesbaden, Germany; Pvt. Hunter Bruner and Sgt. Alexander Platschorre, representing the 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional), Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Sgt. Drew Madsen, representing the Cyber Protection Brigade, Fort Gordon, Ga.; and Spc. Gabriel Caicedo, representing NETCOM HHC, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The next step in the competition for the Army's Best Warriors will be at U.S. Army Cyber Command, Fort Belvoir, Va., later next month. And, if Myers' mom travels to Fort Belvoir, she may once again shout out 'That's my SON!'