By Rich Bartell, U.S. Army AfricaJuly 21, 2012
VICENZA, Italy -- Spc. Antonio M. King, information management specialist, was selected as U.S. Army Africa's (USARAF) 2012 Soldier of the Year. As a result, King will represent USARAF at the U.S. Army Europe's (USAREUR) Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany at the end of the month.
King has Army in is blood, both parents having been Soldiers. He calls Columbia, S.C. his hometown and his wife, Sgt. Terysa King, completes the circle of military connections as she too is a Soldier with USARAF.
Selection of the USARAF Soldier of the Year combed through a large pool of qualified enlisted Soldiers.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Robledo of USARAF's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion says King is a professional Soldier and explains why.
"The desire, motivation and dedication King displays is what gives him an edge over others. He's constantly seeking self-improvement and he's a highly professional Soldier," Robledo said.
Held earlier this month, the USARAF Soldier of the Year competition consisted of a road march, urbanorienteering, physical fitness test, written test and finally, appearing before a board of sergeant's major where competitors faced a multitude of Soldier-centric questions and a series of hands-on exams. King has served in the U.S. Army for three years, and has earned a reputation of being a 'go-to' Soldier in the USARAF headquarters.
"He's a critical staff member as part of the information management section. You always hear great things about him -- he's just really a great Soldier," Robledo said.
With the competition in Germany looming on the horizon, some senior USARAF Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) are assisting in King's training preparations.
Former drill instructor Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Batts and current operations sergeant for the USARAF Secretary of the General's Staff section assisted King with battle drills to help him get ready for the next level of competition.
"King has personality traits that are important in professional Soldiers, and his best quality is the ability to work through adversity. He has a lot of determination and his commitment to duty make him stand out. He embraces the challenge," Batts said.
King admittedly likes testing himself and enjoys solving riddles in his daily routine as a computer expert with USARAFs headquarters.
"I chose this Military Occupational Specialty because I have always enjoyed technology. I like fixing computer issues as well as maintaining them," King said.
For King, the most challenging aspect of the competition is the road march.
"The road march is tough. Learning and understand the different topics of study material is easier for me. But rucking has always been an area where I can improve. I'm concentrating on building my stamina as well as leg, back and shoulder strength to improve my road marching ability.
King's wife rounds-out his immersion in the U.S. Army. She too has had a positive influence during the Soldier of the Year competition.
"There are a lot of topics and subjects to master as a Soldier. I'm thankful that my wife has an understanding of some topics and can better explain them instead of me just reading regulations. She has been very helpful and we're a pretty good team," King said.
If King wins at the USAREUR level, he will go on to compete at the Department of the Army level in the Fall.