FORT HOOD, Texas — The 1st Cavalry Division’s Sgt. Francisco J. De Jesus Cotto and Pvt. 1st Class Robert Goff won the III Armored Corps Paralegal of the Year Competition Nov. 17, 2022, during a tight series of events decided by just 25 points at Fort Hood, Texas.
The three-day-long competition, hosted by the III Armored Corps, pitted Soldiers and NCOs from across the corps, including the 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, and 1st Armored Division, in a grueling test of their resolve and skill for the opportunity to go on to U.S. Army Forces Command’s competition and a possible chance to compete at the Army level.
“It feels fantastic,” said De Jesus, a paralegal specialist with 3rd Battalion, 277th Aviation Regiment who won in the NCO category. “I get to take back a sense of pride to my unit, and even though it was an individual competition, it felt like a team event.”
“I’m so proud of what I do and getting to represent the First Team," said Goff, a paralegal specialist with 1st Bn., 277th Avn Reg. "This is a big deal for me.”
Goff, a recent addition to III Armored Corps, had only been on the post for six weeks when he received the news that he had been selected above his peers to participate in the competition.
Despite the short notice, Goff turned in a two-hour and thirty-eight-minute finish on the 12-mile ruck march, coming in first among fellow competitors.
Other events included a digital rifle marksmanship qualification at the Fort Hood Electronic Skills Trainer, a timed obstacle course, an Army Combat Fitness Test, a written examination, and a final board to test the competitor’s military bearing and mental acumen.
“Everything that an infantryman can do, we have to be able to do too,” said Staff Sgt. Reinaldo Rodriguez, a paralegal NCO for 36th Engineer Brigade and one of the event coordinators. “So, a lot of hard work had to be put in to make this thing a reality.”
The III Armored Corps legal staff worked for months to put on the competition.
“We’ve been planning for about six months,” said Sergeant Maj. Ernest Ko, the III Armored Corps command paralegal NCO. “It’s worth it though, this is how we give back to the Soldiers. This competition proves that paralegals can do everything the average Soldier can.”
There were 10 competitors in total in the competition, yet only one from each category could take home the trophy.
“Just being here makes them all winners in my eyes,” Ko said. “Even though there’s only one winner, getting to see these Soldiers do what they do, you just have to be proud of them all.”
At a banquet, on the third night of the competition, the winners were announced and the trophies were handed out. Despite the accolades, the winners said they could not have won without their support systems at home.
“I thank God for the people I have here and the family I’ve got,” Goff said after receiving his trophy. “I performed as well as I did because of the people I have and knowing that I have them back home rooting for me keeps me moving forward.”