FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 21, 2009) - Sgt. Jovan Luna and Spc. Thomas Rincon were named the winners of the Fort Leavenworth 2009 Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year competition in a ceremony May 15 at the Frontier Conference Center.

A total of six competitors, three NCOs and three Soldiers, demonstrated their abilities in the Army Physical Fitness Test, land navigation, weapons qualification and Warrior Training Tasks during the competition May 11-15. Each competitor was also required to complete a written examination and oral knowledge assessment board.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. John Cross II, president of the board, said the NCO and Soldier of the Year competition was about Soldiers demonstrating their knowledge, skills and abilities.

"I have four attributes that I expect of all Soldiers: I expect them to be skilled, I expect them to be fit, I expect them to be disciplined, and I expect them to be resolute. Those are the things that I'm specifically looking for in Soldiers," Cross said.

He said self-development is one of the key pillars to Soldier development and essential if NCOs and Soldiers want to reach the top of their profession and compete for Soldier and NCO of the Year.

"You're never going to get there unless you have the mindset that it's a profession. In order to be an expert in your profession, you have to be committed to the profession," Cross said.

Luna, of the Combined Arms Center Special Troops Battalion, is the noncommissioned officer in charge of Main Post Chapel. He said he competed in order to be an example and motivation to his Soldiers, and said it was a team effort studying and preparing for the competition. Luna said his girlfriend, a sergeant in the Army Reserve, even joined in to help him get ready for the competition
All of the training and preparation paid off, as Luna said he aced the land navigation event and scored a 282 on his APFT. He said being named Fort Leavenworth NCO of the Year during the Year of the NCO was special, but that NCOs need to always train and lead their Soldiers.

"To win during the Year of the NCO, that's just icing on the cake," Luna said.

Rincon works at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and is assigned to the 256th Military Police Company, 40th MP Internment and Resettlement Battalion. He said he trained for two weeks with his team leader and platoon sergeant before the competition, focusing on land navigation and Soldier knowledge.

Rincon said the knowledge assessment board was the most difficult part of the competition because "it's the last thing you have to do before you find out the results."

He said the event he performed the best was weapons qualification, where he knocked down 37 of 40 targets. Rincon offered advice for Soldiers who want to compete to be Soldier of the Year.

"Make sure you go at it 100 percent. Put the time in to train and prepare for it," Rincon said.

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of CAC and Fort Leavenworth, said all of the NCO and Soldier of the Year competitors "represent the very best of the United States Army."

The other competitors were Munson Army Health Center NCO of the Year Sgt. Paul Huston, 40th MP Battalion NCO of the Year Sgt. Robert Hoogerhyde, MAHC Soldier of the Year Spc. Bradley Benham and CAC STB Soldier of the Year Spc. Joshua Cottrell.

Luna and Rincon will compete next month in the CAC NCO and Soldier of the Year competition.