FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " One Soldier and one noncommissioned officer distinguished themselves during a five-day competition to identify the U.S. Army South 2011 Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Spc. Ethan J. Berry, 56th Signal Battalion, was named Soldier of the Year while Staff Sgt. Joseph C. Hansen, 525th Military Police Battalion, was named NCO of the Year.

“We really challenged the Soldiers participating in the competition and they performed very well,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Luis Gonzalez, U.S. Army South Special Troops Battalion command sergeant major. “It was very impressive to see them in action.”

The competition included an Army physical fitness test, land navigation exercise, weapons qualification, various Warrior tasks, a written examination, drill and ceremony and face-to-face time with a formal military board.

“The competition was great,” said Hansen. “My fellow competitors were on their game. They seemed to give it all their effort and it made things very challenging.”

Berry and Hansen will represent U.S. Army South during the United States Army Forces Command NCO and Soldier of the Year “Best Warrior” competition to be held this summer at Fort Hood, Texas.

“I’m looking forward to competing in FORSCOM since there will be many more participants from throughout the Army,” said Hansen. “It will be a tougher challenge.”

Gonzalez, who served on the board during the formal interviews, said he was especially impressed with each Soldier’s ability to remain calm under pressure.

“It’s not easy to be on a board with five sergeants major throwing questions at you,” said Gonzalez. “They did very well. It was remarkable.”

Hansen said the competition helped him to improve his performance during stressful situations.

“Participating in the competition taught me to relax under pressure,” said Hansen. “I found that while I was in a stressful situation all of my training came to me without having to think about it.”

Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, U.S. Army South commanding general, said he’s confident that Berry and Hansen will perform well during the FORSCOM competition.

“Throughout my career, I have never seen the caliber of Soldiers and NCOs that we have today,” said Trombitas. “I think our competition winners are a fine testimony to what our Army produces and are in fact the best of the best.”