By Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson, USARPAC Public Affairs and 1st Lt. Cassandra Spencer, 500th Military Intelligence Public Affairs October 14, 2011
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Five noncommissioned officers and five Soldiers representing major U.S. Army Pacific commands gathered, here, to compete for a title in USARPAC's fourth Annual Paralegal Warrior Challenge, Sept. 19-23.
"It's great that we can bring these Soldiers together for the fourth year to do this," said Master Sgt. David Julius, chief paralegal, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and NCO in charge of the event. "They get to demonstrate not only proficiency in their job field, but that they are warriors as well."
Months of intense physical and mental training are required to prepare for this competition. Each of USARPAC's major support commands and theater enabling commands in Hawaii, Alaska and Japan conducted their own internal competition to select the best NCO and Soldier to compete in the culminating event, USARPAC's Paralegal Warrior Challenge in Hawaii.
Each command holds its own board, and the winners of those boards are invited, here, Julius said.
The region-wide competition kicked off with an Army physical fitness test on Wheeler Army Airfield. Competitors then moved to Schofield Barracks for a 100-question general knowledge test, followed by warrior task drills on Fort Shafter, where Soldiers were tested on Article 15 knowledge, first aid and numerous other tasks.
The challenge ended with a board, where superiors evaluated Soldiers' skills.
Staff Sgt. Rontino Sharpe, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command, and Spc. Allan Mayberry, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 500th Military Intelligence Bde., were the winners of this year's challenge, as NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively.
"I could hear my heartbeat; that's how nervous I was," Mayberry said. "When they finally called my name, I was relieved."
This year is the second that the 500th MI Bde. won the competition in the Soldier's category.
Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Lister and 1st Sgt. Guadalupe Sorola Jr., both with the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va., agreed that the tasks set for USARPAC's paralegal Soldiers were challenging enough to kick off the first-ever Armywide JAG Corps competition.
"It was interesting to see how USARPAC brought these Soldiers together from Alaska, Japan and (Hawaii), and how these Soldiers are doing things in the field," Sorola said. "We will take these lessons learned back to the JAG school and incorporate USARPAC's methods into our program."
"I think it's important that Soldiers see senior leaders supporting them and … Soldiers doing the right thing, and this is the right thing," Lister said.
USARPAC tested Soldiers on scenarios they could face in combat and in the courtroom.
"I felt that the training was very realistic, and Soldiers were put through stresses that they would normally endure during day-to-day operations," Lister said. "This competition also enforces the standard that we are Soldiers first, and that we are paralegal Soldiers second, and that's what I'm going to incorporate in our JAG Corps-wide competition."
USARPAC's Paralegal Warrior Challenge has set the stage for paralegal competitions across the Army, and the Soldiers competing next year will face trials even more challenging.