FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii-Competition was close and the competitors were unwavering, yet one soldier and one noncommissioned officer emerged victorious and now carry the title as the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command's (AAMDC) Soldier and NCO of the Year.
Soldiers from 94th AAMDC's headquarters in both Hawaii and Japan competed in a Warrior Challenge Competition May 3-5, at Schofield Barracks and with the conclusion of the competition here.
"The Warrior Competition is a really significant event, because this is an event that the soldiers are competing in. They plan, look forward to it all year, a lot of time, energy, physical and mental preparation gone into it," said 1st Sgt. Oubrinyahn Stonewall, first sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 94th AAMDC. "Not only did those individual soldiers put time and energy into it, but for the unit, as result from the Warrior Competition, we are going to have soldiers emerge as the best. We are also going to see a lot of strengths and capabilities in the other soldiers competing against them, and celebrate the skill sets they have in the spirit of competition."
The Soldier of the Year winner was Spc. Roberto A. Maldonado, AN/TPY-2 sensor manager, Air Operations Center, Hickam Air Force Base. NCO of the Year was Staff Sgt. Justin P. Thorp, an assistant operations sergeant, HHB, 94th AAMDC.
According to the winners, confidence and training were the key factors in the climb to be number one in the competition.
"There were certain tasks I knew I needed to work on, like land navigation. Although I was not proficient in my mind, I practiced and I was confident that I would still prevail," said Maldonado. "I was also surrounded by great NCOs who trained, prepared and gave me guidance prior to each event taking place."
Though the standards are set a little higher for the NCOs, fellow NCO support allowed the winner of the NCOY to succeed.
"If it was not for my sponsor, who kept me trained and motivated throughout the competition, I would not had as much success as I did," said Thorp. "It also helped a great deal that we both approached each event with the right attitude and stayed focused on our goals during the competition."
Due to the level of competition between the candidates, identifying who could win early was not an easy task. In fact, the scores were so close, and the competitors so evenly matched that five of the seven NCOs and both of the Soldiers still had shots at the title going into the final event on Wednesday.
"It's tough, if the competition was easy I would have had a whole bunch of folks standing here getting awards, only the best of the best get to this point. Then only the best of the best get to move on to the next point," said Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Rowland, command sergeant major, 94th AAMDC, during the closing award ceremony.
This competition was very close. Any one of these contestants could have won and it all came down to how well they did on the board, added Rowland
Now that the winners are identified, they will be prepared to meet the next level of competition. They will compete at the US Army Pacific Command level, which is the next and final hurdle before the competition at the Department of the Army level. USARPAC will hold their competition June 7-12.