FORT MONROE, Va.- Spc. April Nicole Johnigan, representing U.S. Army Accessions Command, outscored three other competitors to become the 2006 Training and Doctrine Command Soldier of the Year. The four-day competition, culminating with a July 27 awards ceremony, measured Soldiers' overall fitness, warrior tasks, marksmanship, knowledge of general military subjects, and oral and written communication.

"I remember thinking at one point that it was such an honor just being here, and I would be happy for any of the competitors who won," said Johnigan, "Then they called my name and I was honestly shocked. My first thought was to thank God for giving me that moment."

In one of the most difficult events of the competition, Johnigan was paired with Staff Sgt. Leon Presley, who himself went on to win the NCO of the Year competition. The "Urban Orienteering" course began at 5 a.m. at Fort Eustis, Va., and required the two "battle buddies" to hike approximately seven miles while finding various objectives and dealing with obstacles such as simulated Improvised Explosive Devices and enemy patrols.

"I know I learned things here that will help me for the rest of my career," said 20-year-old Johnigan from Tyler, Texas. "Each day, you had to give 110 percent. I'm sure that's how we all got through it. And, now that it's over, I think back on all those physical and mental challenges and realize what I can truly accomplish with the right determination."
(Story by Patrick Buffett of Fort Monroe's "Casemate" newspaper)