SAGAMIHARA, Japan - Nine Soldiers and noncommissioned officers assigned to various units throughout 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade competed in a grueling test of their physical and mental abilities during a quarterly contest at Sagami General Depot Nov. 6-7.
In the end, Staff Sgt. Alfred Taitano, Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer, won the title of noncommissioned officer of the first quarter, and Spc. Isaac Swilling, petroleum supply specialist, won the title of Soldier of the first quarter. Both Soldiers are assigned to the newest brigade addition: Echo Battery, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Task Force Talon.
"This was the first time members of E-3 ADA participated in the competition," said Taitano. "Spc. Swilling and I had to introduce our unit's work ethic and readiness to the rest of the brigade by performing well. We spent countless hours preparing in the weeks leading up to the event and came here from Guam to Japan to win it."
The competition's events included a height and weight assessment; an Army Physical Fitness Test; a drill and ceremony competition; timed disassembling, reassembling and function checks of the M4 carbine rifle, M9 pistol and M249 light machine gun; virtual M4 marksmanship tests on the Engagement Skills Trainer; a 12-mile ruck march with a three-hour time limit; Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System programing proficiency assessment; a written test; and a formal board before Sgt. Maj. George Rupprecht, brigade air defense sergeant major, and other senior NCOs.
"We do the Pacific Guardian of the Quarter Competition to foster esprit de corps and camaraderie amongst members of the brigade," said Rupprecht. "It helps them assess their strengths and weaknesses and makes our Guardians better-rounded on both intellectual and physical aspects of Soldiering. We also use this competition to feed into U.S. Army Japan's quarterly competition and the upcoming Best Warrior Competition."
Staff Sgt. David Shores, air defense battle management system operator and competition coordinator, said events were based on common Soldier tasks that are not specific to any military occupational specialty and it was a close race all the way to the end.
"The competition on day one was tight after the seven events were conducted," said Shores. "It was not until day two after the board that we were able to identify the winners. This was the second time our brigade has organized the competition and the first time we focused on the total Soldier concept: each event was based on a 100-point scale, so the Soldiers who won exhibited a high degree of skill in most events. Most impressively, all competitors completed the 12-mile ruck march with 45-pound weighted rucks in less than three hours."
The winners each received an Impact Army Achievement Medal. They will also go on to compete in the U.S. Army Japan Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition.
In addition to the winners, competitors included: Staff Sgt. Andrew Guilliam, Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer, and Spc. Timotheus Redd, Patriot launching station enhanced operator/maintainer, both with 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment; Sgt. Jesse Sanchez, human resources specialist, 14th Missile Defense Battery; Sgt. Erick Salazar and Spc. Onil Almanzar, both Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainers with 10th Missile Defense Battery; and Sgt. Jose Perez Feliciano, information technology specialist, and Pfc. Dewey Langston, Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 38th ADA Bde.
Lt. Col. James L. Crenshaw, brigade deputy commanding officer, spoke at the closing ceremony and asked members of the audience to celebrate the Guardians who participated by emulating them.
"If you are a leader, encourage your folks to pursue what these Soldiers have pursued," said Crenshaw. "I was very impressed with the many challenging events this group of fine Soldiers have conquered. Keep chasing your aspirations and you will be the next Sgt. Maj. Rupprecht or Command Sgt. Maj. (Neil) Sartain in the future."