By KRIS GONZALEZ, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 20, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- Justice prevailed as two partners in crime-fighting were named this year's NCO and Soldier of the Year for Fort Jackson's U.S. Army Garrison Command.
Sgt. Paul Reifke and Spc. Jose Lopez, military policemen with the 17th MP Detachment, battled it out against eight Soldiers to be named the best in garrison.
"These two are two top-notch Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Stacy Case, physical security NCOIC for the 17th MPs. "Winning these titles speaks volumes of them."
During the three-day competition, the competitors' physical and mental stamina were put to the test as the Soldiers toughed out road marches, executed warrior tasks and battle drills, and competed for top scores on an Army Physical Fitness Test, as well as a formal board.
Case said it was Reifke and Lopez'swork ethic that got them where they are today.
"Spc. Lopez is the type of Soldier whom every NCO wishes (he or she) had in his or her squad," Case said. "He is an outstanding Soldier who lives the Army values and gives 110 percent every day he comes to work. He is the type of Soldier whom everyone looks to and says, 'I want to be like him.'
"And Sgt. Reifke has a drive about him that many do not have," Case said. "He demands a lot from his Soldiers and himself. He is what every NCO should strive to be."
A self proclaimed "hands-on person," Reifke credits his seven years of service and two Iraq deployments for giving him real-world training that would prepare him for this competition long before arriving to Fort Jackson two years ago.
"I've been ruck marching since I got here," Reifke said. "I don't want to lose my edge."
He said during his entire tour here, he has been road marching up to 12 miles, two or three times a week, making the 6-mile trek from Kennedy Hall to Gate 5 one of the easier events of the competition for him.
Lopez, who began road marching with Reifke several months ago and who has only been in the Army for three years, agreed that serving a tour overseas, like he did in Afghanistan, prepared him for the competition better than any books or repetitious practice could have.
"I don't just know these warrior tasks and battle drills - they're second nature to me now," Lopez said. "They're something I've lived through and put into practice in real life."
This week Lopez is at Fort Campbell, Ky., competing for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command 2010 Soldier of the Year title.
Because Reifke will PCS to Italy in July, his alternate, Sgt. Abel Grullon, a mechanic attached to the 17th MP Detachment, will compete to be named IMCOM's 2010 NCO of the Year.
Reifke said he's confident six-year veteran Grullon will do well in his place, and that Lopez will steal the show at Fort Campbell.
"He's confident and highly motivated," he said about Lopez. "He excels at everything. He's the most high-speed Soldier we've got."