Army announces winners of prestigious 2020 competition awards

By U.S. Army Public AffairsOctober 13, 2020

WASHINGTON – Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston announced the winners of the 2020 Best Warrior Competition during a live presentation at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Arlington, Va.  The 2020 U.S. Army award winners are:

·        Best Warrior Competition NCO of the Year – Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Berger, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Carson, Colorado (Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri)

·        Best Warrior Competition Soldier of the Year – Sgt. James Akinola, Moncrief Army Health Clinic, U.S. Army Futures Command, Fort Jackson, South Carolina (Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

“In these challenging times, the Army continues to push forward in all facets of its mission to defend the nation, from fitness and leadership training to recruiting and career counseling,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army.

“These are critical areas in which our best and brightest leaders have an opportunity to influence and help mold young men and women joining the Army family. It’s an exceptional achievement and we are proud of all of these Soldiers,” McConville added.

“Congratulations to the best Soldier and NCO in our Army,” Grinston said. “Even under this year’s extraordinary circumstances, you’ve proven you have what it takes to compete and win. Thank you also to the hundreds of leaders who made this decentralized, virtual competition a reality.”

Previously announced 2020 Army competition winners:

·        Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. Erik Rostamo, Military Police, U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri (Hometown: St. Michael, Minnesota)

·        Regular Army Recruiting NCO of the Year Staff Sgt. Hunter Kiser, 1st Recruiting Brigade, Lynchburg, Virginia (Hometown: Staunton, Virginia)

·        Reserve Recruiting NCO of the Year Staff Sgt. Garrett Ehrmann, 3rd Recruiting Brigade, Cape Girardeau, Missouri (Fountain Valley, California)

·        Regular Army Career Counselor of the Year Staff Sgt. Alisa Licata, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas (Hometown: Yucca Valley, California)

·        Reserve Component Career Counselor of the Year Master Sgt. Class Joey L. Thomas, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia and member of the North Carolina National Guard (Hometown: Asheboro, North Carolina)

The Best Warrior Competition for NCO and Soldier of the Year recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the warrior ethos and represent the force of the future. The Army’s top Soldiers and noncommissioned officers compete at locations around the world during this annual competition. NCOs and Soldiers first compete in subordinate competitions, and then the finalists compete for the titles Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year over a three-week span in September and October.

The Drill Sergeant of the Year competition is hosted by the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, the initial-entry training core function lead for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. It is one of the most physically demanding and mentally tough challenges any Soldier can face in a U.S. Army competition. For four days, the competitors must perform and master all associated tasks and drills from Basic Combat Training. To win, they must not only be experts in training Soldiers, but also be the best of the best and rise above the competition.

The Recruiter of the Year awards are presented to Soldiers who are judged to be the top recruiters in their respective categories. Representing U.S. Army Recruiting Command's six recruiting brigades, they compete to demonstrate their knowledge and professionalism. Competitors complete an Army physical fitness test and deliver presentations before the USAREC command sergeant major and all of the brigade command sergeants major.

The Career Counselor of the Year competition includes significant physical and mental challenges in which each competitor is graded according to Army standards. This includes completion of the Army Combat Fitness Test, a 50-question multiple-choice exam, a 750-word essay on a chosen topic and a variety of board appearances. Scoring is decided through the culmination of commanders’ evaluations and recommendations.