April 4, 2011

Virginia selects top enlisted warriors

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard competed against one another for the top spot in Virginia during the annual Soldier/Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition at Fort Pickett, Va., March 26 and 27. The 10 warriors conducted an Army Physical Fitness Test, qualified on the engagement skills trainer, performed Army Warrior Tasks and faced a board of sergeants major to determine the winners. Sgt. Michael Eames, who is assigned to 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, was selected as the NCO of the Year and Spc. Jordan Karim, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th BCT, was selected as the Soldier of the Year.

 

Sgt. Michael Eames assesses a simulated casualty during the Army Warrior Tasks portion of the 2011 Virginia Army National Guard Soldier/Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition at Fort Pickett March 26. Eames was selected as the NCO of the Year March 27. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The day began early as the Soldiers showed their strength and athletic prowess by completing the APFT, a demanding test that gauges a warrior’s physical ability by testing the Soldier in three events: push-ups, sit-ups and a timed two-mile run. During the APFT, the Soldiers are given points based on how many repetitions of each exercise they can properly complete in two-minutes. Points are also awarded based on the time elapsed when a Soldier completes the two-mile run. A Soldier earns a perfect score of 300, with 100 points earned in each category.

“During the weekend they are being graded on 10 different Army Warrior Tasks,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Ferris, 3rd Battalion, 116th Regiment, 116th BCT. “The Army Warrior tasks are the basic foundation of what we do as Soldiers. Every Soldier, whether you are infantry, a mortar man, or an admin specialist, you have to know what your Army Warrior Tasks are and be proficient in them. Everyone is a Soldier and everyone is a shooter.”

“It builds motivation for the Soldiers to have them compete against the best of each battalion,” said Staff Sgt. Stuart Smith of Richmond, an NCO in the competition. “It has its ups and downs with all the knowledge we have to remember. It’s good competition.”

The Soldiers, who were selected to compete in the state level event by winning the competition at the battalion level, then donned their helmets and body armor to make their way to the EST, a virtual shooting range. Once in the EST the Soldiers fired simulated rifles at virtual targets to gauge their individual marksmanship in a controlled environment.

With their “battle-rattle” on and the marksmanship complete, the warriors moved to the Air Assault course where a number of sergeants major from across the commonwealth challenged the prospects on their ability to perform Army Warrior Tasks. The Soldiers were tested on various basic warrior skills such as first-aid, land navigation, proper weapon maintenance, and radio communication.

 

Spc. Jordan Karim identifies key terrain features on a military map during the Army Warrior Tasks event of the 2011 Virginia Army National Guard Soldier/Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition March 26 at Fort Pickett. The next day Karim was selected by a panel of command sergeants major as the Soldier of the Year. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

“We’re competing against the best of the best from the state of Virginia to ensure better leadership for our respective battalions,” said Spc. Jonathan Beard from Fredericksburg, who is assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th BCT. “I actually had the benefit of coming down with the NCO of the Year from my battalion and on the way down I got to quiz him on first-aid questions, so I was a go on the medical aspect of the warrior drills.”

After a night filled with studying and preparing their Class A uniforms for inspection, the Soldiers woke to face a panel of sergeants major to assess the competitors’ basic military appearance and be questioned on Army knowledge. The Soldiers stood before the board in their dress uniform and were expected to answer questions on information in Army manuals and regulations from memory.

“We have selected the best NCO and the best Soldier that we have in the commonwealth of Virginia to go on and compete at the higher levels,” said Ferris.

According to Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb, the Virginia state command sergeant major, Eames and Karim will move on to the Region II Competition in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., where they will vie for the top spot in Region II later this year.

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