On October 22, the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year (NCOY) and Soldier of the Year (SOY) were announced at the 2012 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Exposition. Congratulations to Staff Sgt. Matthew Senna, U.S. Army Europe (NCOY) and Sgt. Saral Shrestha, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (SOY)!
While these two Soldiers represent the top warriors in our Army, the 2012 Best Warrior competition (October 15-18, 2012) brought together twenty-four of the Army’s finest Warriors, representing 12 commands from across the Army.
Below, the Soldiers participating in Best Warrior competition share their thoughts about their motivations and their challenges during the event.
What’s kept you motivated throughout the Best Warrior competition?
Staff Sgt. Craig Wayman: My family. I use Facebook and texting to stay in touch. My wife and kids are my biggest fans. They’re like my own cheerleading squad.
What will you share with the Soldiers in your unit when you get back from the Best Warrior Competition?
Sgt. 1st Class Alissa Guzman: When you become senior in rank, some people lose sight of the importance of Soldiering, of training and being that mentor, that leader, that counselor so coming here and in some areas, you are humbled to an extent, so it brings you back to reality.
Tell us something that SMA Chandler said during the competition that resonated with you.
Sgt. Darius Krzywinis: I like that SMA Chandler emphasizes the totality that he’s looking for in a Soldier – the total picture. He worded it such almost that he’s not only looking for good tactical Soldiers, but good human beings.
What was it like meeting SMA Chandler?
Staff Sgt. Neal Lang III: He’s what we aspire to be. If you’re here and you don’t aspire to be the Sergeant Major of the Army or at least the Command Sergeant Major of your command, I don’t think you should be here. We want to be the best. Well he is a direct reflection of what the Army thinks is the best is and that’s what I aspire to be one day. So it was a great honor to meet him.
No matter the scenario, what’s one of the challenges remains that same throughout the competition?
Spc. James Conklin: There are so many realms of Army here. You have everything from a Sergeant First Class Special Forces Operations to a Specialist Cook and everything in between. Transporters, infantry, Airborne, Air Assault, Aviation. And I don’t know what he brings to the table and he doesn’t know what I bring to the table so that’s the most challenging.
What’s your source of encouragement?
Sgt. Jesse Jacklyn: I have four young children at home. I like to be their role model. I like to be a good example for them and showing them to push through the tough times. This also ties into having Soldiers. Being able to be an example and show them it’s okay to push through the tough times. It might hurt for a little bit or be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it in the end.
A user on the U.S. Army Facebook page asked “What’s it like to be a hero?”
Spc. Mark Fuggiti: One of my long-term goals in the military is to serve my country overseas. We’ve had so many Soldiers make so many sacrifices over the last ten years; to be in uniform and not have served overseas is almost a mark of shame for a Soldier so to speak. We do make sacrifices, our families do make sacrifices, but it’s not the same. The heroes are the ones who stood up 200 years ago to give America what it has today. The torch has been handed down to us and we’re just safeguarding it.
What is the most challenging part of the Best Warrior Competition?
Spc. Kevin Mulloy: I’m in a unit that doesn’t deploy. We don’t have weapons. We don’t have the gear; we don’t have the fun HOOAH stuff that all these other units have. The part that has been the most challenging is reconnecting with those tasks that I haven’t used daily or monthly, quarterly – whatever may be. Luckily, I’m extremely motivated, I’m extremely fit and I don’t quit. I will never quit. It’s right there in the Soldier’s Creed. You always push. You always drive on. So even those things that are harder for me to do, I still get them done. One way or another, you have to get your job done. That’s the job of a NCO.
We’re all competing to be Best Warrior, but we’re all in this to be NCOs and lead Soldiers so we have to get the job done. We’re taking the Army into the future. Right now the military is really putting the NCO back on a pedestal again so we have to make sure we represent those values.