GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (Nov. 21, 2011) -- Sleep deprivation, fatigue, and strenuous warrior tasks didn't stop Capt. Troy Peterson, the squadron logistics officer for 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment (STRYKER), from being victorious in the U.S. Army in Europe's "Best Junior Officer Competition, Nov. 14-17.

Peterson was named USAREUR's top junior officer during a ceremony here last Friday. The competition is the only competition of its kind in the U.S. Army, and tested the junior officers in pistol and rifle qualifications, two foot marches -- totaling 25 kilometers -- day-and-night land navigation, and a variety of mental tasks.

The candidates' were evaluated on personal appearance, conversational style, knowledge of world and local affairs and current events, awareness of military programs and overall Soldier knowledge during a military board.

The officers were also asked to discuss the significance of the U.S. Army in Europe in an essay.

"I am an infantry officer. I'm not a logistician. It is an important distinction," said Peterson. "I was really lucky as a platoon leader when I was a lieutenant to get about a year of platoon leader time that was split between garrison and then downrange commanding a combat outpost."

That experience in Afghanistan honed and sharpened his combat arms skills, he said.

"I was able to fall back on those even though I hadn't been able to practice them a whole lot recently," said Peterson. "Those skills served me really well in the situational training lanes and some of the really infantry parts of the competition."

Peterson said two months ago he became the logistics officer for the Squadron, which broadened his experience and developed him mentally. He credited his command for giving him challenging, responsible positions, while he also thanking his wife for helping him prepare.

"She constantly challenges me intellectually," Peterson said. "We discuss current events, politics and she really helped me to prepare for some of the more unusual things that I had to deal with on the board questions, such as the relevancy of the U.S. Army in Europe."

The competitors came from across the Army career branches, including military intelligence, medical, air defense artillery, aviation, infantry, engineers and military police.

"It isn't all about bragging rights," said Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. "You don't get to call yourself a professional, just because you think you are. You have to earn the right to be called a professional. You are going to walk away from this not only with sore feet, and a whole lot of fatigue, but you're going to understand that every day you have to learn something new and push yourself. That's what being a Soldier is about."

Peterson received an Army Commendation Medal, a trophy and a prize package that included a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, a three-year membership to the Association of the United States Army, courtesy of its European Department, a $250 Army and Air Force Exchange gift card also provided by the AUSA; a $250 eyewear package from Revision Eyewear and a two-night stay at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort. Peterson is also invited to have dinner with Lt. Gen. Hertling and his wife, the undersecretary of the Army and New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher and his wife.

"I am exceedingly proud of all of you," said Hertling. "Next year, I'm going to ask some of you to help run it and you're going to see that it is going to expand in size and scope.

Hertling said, next year USAREUR's Best Junior Officer Competition will become part of the USAREUR Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year Competition. The winners of future USAREUR SOY/NOY and Best Junior Officer competitions will be announced together at the annual USAREUR ball.