By Staff Sgt. Crista YazzieSeptember 28, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Eight top paralegals from commands throughout the Pacific judiciously competed to become the top Paralegal of the Pacific, September 20 through 24.
For the third consecutive year, Soldiers from the USARPAC community, including Alaska, Japan and Hawaii, publicly demonstrated their tactical and technical proficiency during the five-day competition.
"We're warriors who just happen to do legal work," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Maestas, USARPAC chief paralegal and non-commissioned officer in charge of the event.
This year, Maestas split up competing regions by general court martial convening authorities.
"There are five general court martial convening authorities within USARPAC," said Maestas. "Within each subordinate unit, U.S. Army Japan, U.S. Army Alaska, 8th Theater Sustainment Command and 25th Infantry Division, each has their own Paralegal Challenge, and the winners and runners ups are eligible to compete at the USARPAC level Paralegal Warrior Challenge."
Competing Soldiers endured challenges varying from an Army Physical Fitness Test and conducting a search of an enemy combatant to a barrage of legal challenges. During th mental part of the challenge competitors had to complete an Article 15 review, a correspondence review test, chapter review test and 100-question general knowledge test.
"To know some of the answers you have to actually know the manual for courts-martial well, and know common articles from it, so it's a good test of knowledge," said Sgt. Antonio Foy, a competing paralegal from U.S. Army Japan.
The 2010 verdict found Sgt. Dalani J. Brown, 25th Infantry Division, to be the USARPAC Paralegal NCO of the Year, and Spc. Gary Thomas, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, was named Paralegal Soldier of the Year. For their overall performance, both Brown and Thomas were awarded the Army Commendation medal.
Brown also won the "Iron Award" for achieving the highest APFT score of 295."I haven't been on the island for very long, so for me it's an honor that the sergeant major thought I was competent enough to enter this challenge, and I feel especially good being able to bring this title to the 25th JAG Corps," said Brown.
Runners up were Sgt. James Holloman, paralegal, 10th Support Group, Okinawa, and Staff. Sgt. Matthew O'Brien, paralegal non-commissioned officer of Courts and Boards, Military Justice, Wheeler Army Airfield. Both were awarded the Army Achievement Medal for their efforts. All participants in the competition were awarded certificates of achievement.
Brown and Thomas were additionally presented with a $50 savings bond from the Hawaii Sergeants Major Association and a coin from the association. The winners were also awarded a coin of excellence from the Judge Advocate General and as well as a letter of commendation and coin of excellence from the JAG Corps command sergeant major.
"Congratulations to everyone who was chosen by their command to come here, thank you to the (senior group leaders) for supporting your Soldier and coming here with them, participating in the senior NCO conference as well, and this is the first year we've also had the SJAs here," said Col. Pamela Stahl, USARPAC Staff Judge Advocate, who awarded the participants and winners of the competition along with Maestas.
According to Sgt. Maj. Cyrus Nebbitt, command paralegal NCO 25th Inf. Div., while the candidates are doing candidate activities, "Our entire community has this opportunity to get together for professional development and a paralegal roundtable to further the effort to make us more proficient and more competent for our commanders and clients."
Both Nebbit and Maestas, agreed that the addition of the JAG Corps for the 2010 competition just added to the camaraderie and development of the week's events.
"The JAG Corps has an annual conference in June, so this is just an extension of that at the major command level," said Nebbit.
During their week in Hawaii, participants also conducted a tour throughout the island, to include a tour of Pearl Harbor and a visit to Hanauma Bay.
"I think it's great that we can all come together here at the same time and do some things together and talk about issues in the JAG Corps and also participate in the paralegal warrior challenge," said Stahl. "Hopefully we can get together again next year."