HEIDELBERG, Germany - A military policeman from Stuttgart and a chaplain's assistant from Heidelberg were recognized as the best of the best during the Installation Management Command-Europe 2009 Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year awards ceremony May 28 at Campbell Barracks here.

Staff Sgt. Ronald White, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, and Spc. Jason Boatwright, U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, were named as the command's top NCO and Soldier, respectively, during the ceremony which also paid tribute to the Army's 2009 Year of the NCO by adopting the theme: "Year of the NCO - Leading by Example."

"This type of competition helps you keep that competitive edge and shows how committed you are," said Diane Devens, IMCOM-Europe region director, to the group of 13 NCO and Soldier competitors.

This year's event provided numerous trivia factoids:
Aca,!Ac Both winners are California natives, with White hailing from Stockton and Boatwright from Madera;
Aca,!Ac This is the third-straight year USAG Stuttgart claimed the NCO title with Staff Sgt. Edmund Whipple winning in 2008, and Staff Sgt. Christopher Allison winning in 2007;
Aca,!Ac Both winners cited this year's theme - Leading by Example - as something their home station leaders and NCOs do every day.

"On a day-to-day basis, NCOs are the driving force behind the Army. My NCOs were behind me every step of the way," said White. "The pushed me in every capacity possible, but they were with me every step of the way."

Referring to the three days of actual competition at USAG Grafenwoehr, Germany, earlier this month, White said, "During the competition's road march, my sponsors both did the road march with me." Twelve miles carrying a heavy rucksack, he emphasized.

White's NCOs, Whipple and Master Sgt. Gary Cryder, were matter-of-fact about "leading by example." They both agreed that being with their fellow Soldier is what NCOs and Soldiers do.

"We had the easy part," said Cryder shucking off White's praise about the role he and Whipple played in leading by example. "We just had to give him a piece of paper and tell him what to do. He did the hard part and competed."

Boatwright thanked his previous and current NCOs and leaders, saying, "With my NCOs it's not just about work. They have an interest in my life and family and well being. They don't just 'push' me in a direction, they lead me in the right direction. They have laid out for me what I need to do to be successful."

White and Boatwright also both commented on the camaraderie displayed among NCOs and Soldiers during the competition.

Boatwright thanked his USAG Heidelberg leadership then thanked the other competitors who he said "lifted each other up" and encouraged each other throughout the competition despite trying to out-do each other.

Watching on during the ceremony was Boatwright's wife, Victoria, and his 13-month-old son, Jason Jr. While little Jason seemed to be enjoying chewing on munchies and a flip flop, Victoria sat pensively.

"We were nervous... but confident," said Victoria, "He worked hard, he studied and, in my opinion, he definitely deserves this."

The competition began at Grafenwoehr earlier this month where participants underwent a comprehensive evaluation of skills ranging from physical fitness to military knowledge, including land navigation exercises, weapons qualification and written exams.

The two region selectees now will represent IMCOM-Europe at the Military District of Washington competition scheduled for next month at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

In attendance at the event were Gen. Carter Ham, U.S. Army Europe commanding general, and garrison commanders, senior enlisted leaders, Soldiers and IMCOM-Europe representatives from throughout Europe.

Other competitors included:

Spc. Justin Benge - USAG Grafenwoehr
Spc. Josiah Bos - USAG Bamberg
Spc. Travis Kennedy - USAG Wiesbaden
Spc. Jonathan Conerly - USAG Schweinfurt

Staff Sgt. Michael Martin - USAG Grafenwoehr
Staff Sgt. Jay Janish - USAG Bamberg
Sgt. Curtis Bosworth - USAG Baumholder
Staff Sgt. Daniel Gaumer - USAG Vicenza
Staff Sgt. Noel Schwandt - USAG Wiesbaden
Staff Sgt. Isaac Ayala - USAG Ansbach
Sgt. Dujuan Hunter - USAG Benelux