Honolulu--Pfc. Jose Figueroa, of 524th Combat Service Support Battalion, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, won the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) Soldier of the Year competition, selected among seven other Pacific unit competitors.

USARPAC announced the names of the two top Soldiers in the Pacific on June 15th during the 237th Army Birthday Commemoration at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. Staff Sgt. Neal Lang III, Eighth Army (Korea), won the USARPAC Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competition, selected among eight other Pacific unit competitors.

Figueroa currently serves as the SAMS-1E Operator in the 536th Maintenance Control Section at Schofield Barracks. He offered advice during an earlier media event to Soldiers considering entering the tough competition, "I would tell them to never give up and to train and practice, and it'll pay off one day."

The Warrior Challenge is a USARPAC competition designed to find the best Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) and Soldier in the Pacific. The competition consists of scored events to include a written examination, an appearance in front of a command sergeants major board, M4 carbine qualification, pre-combat inspections, a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, combatives and a variety of demanding warrior tasks. At the end of the competition, points are tallied and the highest scoring NCO and Soldier are chosen as NCO and Soldier of the Year for USARPAC.

"Soldiers that make it to this level of competition have already won several different competitions before getting here," said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Hunt III, 8th TSC's senior enlisted leader. "They are all winners and the best trained warriors in their command," he added of the elite competitors.

Figueroa and Lang will move on to a Department of the Army competition held in October to determine the Army-wide NCO and Soldier of the Year winners. USARPAC competition planners looked closely at the Department of the Army contest to best prepare their contenders for the next level of competition.

"At this level, the events have to be designed to find the best out of the best," said Hunt of the rigorous events, "The leaders and planners that put the competition together know how to do just that," he added.

Figueroa enlisted in the Army, July 2010 and entered basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky where he held the position of platoon guide and was presented the Army Physical Fitness Patch. He attended Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia where he served as the platoon guide, class leader and graduated as the distinguished honor graduate. His short term goals are to achieve the rank of sergeant and complete his bachelor's degree in information technology. His long term goals are to attain his master's degree and retire after 20 or more years of service as a Chief Warrant Officer.