FORT RILEY, Kan. — The 1st Infantry Division conducted the first “Year of the NCO” noncommissioned officer of the quarter competition on Fort Riley, Kansas, Jan. 27-31, 2023.
Four competitors from different brigades across the division participated in a three-day, multi-part event that evaluated their Soldier and leadership skills to earn the title ‘NCO of the Quarter’.
The event opened with a brief given by U.S. Army Master Sgt. Shantese Ratledge, the ready reserve senior enlisted advisor for G-3 Operations, 1st Inf. Div., followed by a height and weight.
“Be proud of yourself that you are here,” Ratledge said. “Do your best, be the very best that you can. Everyone is a winner because you made it here.”
An Army Combat Fitness Test followed, which saw all of the participants pushing themselves to score high in each of the six categories, including a two-mile run in sub-freezing conditions.
“It feels rough to compete for NCO of the quarter, but I’m very grateful,” said Sgt. Michael Washington, Bravo Company, 541st Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Division Sustainment Brigade, 1st Inf. Div. “I hope to set the example for my Soldiers.”
The event culminated with a board, where the competitors were tested on their knowledge of the Army and 1st Inf. Div. policies and history. Each participant was given hypothetical scenarios which measured how they would react to specific situations as leaders.
Command Sgt. Maj. Clarence Raby, the 1st Inf. Div. ready reserve division command sergeant major, spoke about the pride he had in each of the finalists.
“You all did it, you’re here competing for your brigades, I’m proud of each and every one of you,” Raby said. “Competition is good, every competition is good.”
Alongside the NCO competition, junior enlisted Soldiers also competed for “Soldier of the Quarter”.
“It's an honor and a privilege to have been selected by my brigade to represent them here at division, and I’m excited for this opportunity,” said Sgt. 1st Class Morgan Hicks, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div. “If you do get the opportunity to go to a board, go and represent your unit as best as you can. Regardless of rank, anyone can be an example to their leaders and subordinates.”
At the competition’s conclusion, Hicks earned the ‘NCO of the 1st Quarter’ title. She will return to compete for 1st Inf. Div. NCO of the Year at the end of 2023. In addition, Spc. Jorge Ordaz, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st CAB, earned the ‘Soldier of the 1st Quarter’ title.
“After this, I’m hoping to win the division NCO of the Year, and then I plan to attend the Audie Murphy Board this year as well,” Hicks said.
Hicks and Ordaz also received Army Commendation Medals from division leadership and recognition awards from the Society of the First Infantry Division and local Flint Hills region community partners for their outstanding performance and accomplishment.