By KRIS GONZALEZ, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 13, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- They say three's a crowd, but many platoon sergeants, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers would be proud to be in this company.
Fourteen Soldiers, to be exact, competed in a fierce competition to earn this year's Fort Jackson Platoon Sergeant, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year titles.
Sgt. 1st Class Jose Garcia, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Jones, and Spc. Chentile Jackson, proved to be a triple threat, blowing away their rivals and winning the titles.
Garcia, an Advanced Individual Training platoon sergeant for Company C, 369th Adjutant General Battalion, said he is elated to be Fort Jackson's 2010 Platoon Sergeant of the Year.
"It feels excellent," he said. "It was a very competitive competition. I was surprised when I found out I had won. I thought every noncommissioned officer did an outstanding job representing his or her unit."
Jones, a drill sergeant for Company E, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, said being named Fort Jackson's 2010 NCO of the Year is an achievement that not only recognizes his technical and tactical expertise, but it also gives him the opportunity to progress as a Soldier, an NCO and a leader.
"You can accomplish so many things if you set your mind to it," he said. "This is one goal that I've accomplished and it's just going to push me further to bettering myself and any Soldiers that I train."
Spc. Chentile Jackson, supply specialist for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, said serving as Fort Jackson's 2010 Soldier of the Year will allow her to stand out among her peers, a job she doesn't take lightly.
"I'll set an example for other Soldiers," she said.
Jackson already is a model Soldier, said her sponsor and mentor Staff Sgt. Christopher Walker, a drill sergeant for Company B, 3-60th Inf. Reg.
"She's one of the best Soldiers I've seen," Walker said. "She works hard, putting a lot of effort and time, her free time, into studying and practicing hands-on tasks. That says a lot about her."
Jackson said she studied every day for the last several months to prepare for the competition, in which she and her competitors battled it out to prove they were the most skilled in events such as day and night land navigation, warrior task and battle drills, and urban orienteering.
They started the competition the morning of May 4 with an Army Physical Fitness Test at Darby Field and ended Friday with a formal board. In between, they were given a written exam, which tested their knowledge of things every Soldier, especially NCOs should know, Garcia said.
"Every aspect of the competition came natural," he said. "Disassembling a weapon comes natural to a Soldier. Identifying points on a map, plotting a map - these are things a platoon sergeant or NCO would know."
The most challenging aspect of the competition, he said, was not knowing what was going to happen next.
Garcia was referring to the few elements of surprise intermixed into this year's competition, such as the mystery event - a Tomahawk throw.
"The Tomahawk throw was very challenging," Garcia said. "It's not something that everybody does on a daily basis."
Jackson said the board was her most challenging event, but one for which she was well prepared.
"They asked strange, off-the-wall questions," she said. "Such as, are male Soldiers allowed to wear wigs'"
"Yes," she said she told the board, knowing the correct answer.
In fact, Jackson knew the answer to just about every question the board asked her, Walker said.
"She did an outstanding job," he said.
That's a sentiment post Command Sgt. Major Brian Stall, shares, regarding all three winners.
"Earning these titles is huge," Stall said. "They prevailed among a field of tough competitors. Their motivation, self-discipline, courage and perseverance speak volumes about them as Soldiers.
"I am proud of their individual performance and know the leaders within their organizations feel the same pride," he said.
Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez, commander of the 3-34th Inf. Reg. concurred, and spoke highly of his Soldier, Jones.
"He gives 110 percent in everything he does," Hernandez said. "He's physically fit, mentally tough and dedicated to his profession. He's a true professional."
1st Sgt. Rashad Hickson, of Company C, 369th AG Bn., shares similar feelings about Garcia.
"He's an outstanding leader," Hickson said. "Simply put, he's a Soldier - the best of the best."
All three winners will travel to Fort Monroe in August to compete in the TRADOC-level competitions.
Hernandez said they will show TRADOC that Fort Jackson is producing some outstanding Soldiers and NCOs.