429th BSB troops chosen as Virginia Guard Soldier, NCO of the Year for 2012

Staff Sgt. Ken McEnaney of Detachment 1, Company F, 429th BSB in Winchester, explains the proper way to evaluate a casualty during the Army Warrior Tasks portion of the 2012 Virginia Army National Guard NCO of the year competition March 30, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. McEnaney was named the top noncommissioned officer in the state and will represent Virginia at the regional competition May 2-5, 2013 at Camp Dawson, W. Va. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Ken McEnaney of Detachment 1, Company F, 429th BSB in Winchester, explains the proper way to evaluate a casualty during the Army Warrior Tasks portion of the 2012 Virginia Army National Guard NCO of the year competition March 30, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. McEnaney was named the top noncommissioned officer in the state and will represent Virginia at the regional competition May 2-5, 2013 at Camp Dawson, W. Va. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

 

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Nineteen junior enlisted Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from around Virginia converged on Fort Pickett March 30-31 for the 2012 Virginia Army National Guard Soldier and NCO of the Year competition.

Following two days of demanding physical and mental competitions, the two representatives from the 429th Brigade Support Battalion came out the winners. Spc. Timothy Yonts of Headquarters Company, 429th BSB in Danville and Staff Sgt. Ken McEnaney of Detachment 1, Company F, 429th BSB in Winchester will each go on to represent the Virginia Guard at the regional Soldier and NCO of the year competition May 2-5, 2013 at Camp Dawson, W. Va.

“The level of competition and professionalism displayed by each of the Soldiers and NCOs during this event was nothing less than outstanding,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb, the Virginia Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major. “The competition seems to be getting better with each year displayed by the fact that one point separated the winner and runner up for NCO of the Year.”

This was the second year in a row a winner and runner up were separated by one point, according to Holcomb.

Spc. Timothy Yonts of Headquarters Company, 429th BSB in Danville, catches his breath following the completion of the land navigation portion of the 2012 Virginia Guard Soldier of the Year competition March 30, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. Yonts bested nine other Soldiers from around the Virginia Army Guard to earn the title of Virginia Guard Soldier of the Year and will represent Virginia at the regional competition May 2-5, 2013 at Camp Dawson, W. Va.. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Spc. Timothy Yonts of Headquarters Company, 429th BSB in Danville, catches his breath following the completion of the land navigation portion of the 2012 Virginia Guard Soldier of the Year competition March 30, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. Yonts bested nine other Soldiers from around the Virginia Army Guard to earn the title of Virginia Guard Soldier of the Year and will represent Virginia at the regional competition May 2-5, 2013 at Camp Dawson, W. Va.. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“Virginia has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the caliber of young warriors I witnessed in action this weekend,” Holcomb said. “What I saw was a testament to their determination, their training and the mentorship each had received in getting them to the state-level competition.”

The Soldiers began the two-day event early Saturday morning with the Army Physical Fitness Test. That was followed by a marksmanship competition using the M-4 rifle. In the afternoon the 19 Soldiers competed in land navigation. They each had two and a half hours to find five points on the Fort Pickett Land Navigation South course.

Late that afternoon the competitors tackled Army Warrior Tasks. Four different stations were set up at the Fort Pickett Air Assault course where the Soldiers were tested on a total of eight different Army Warrior Tasks. Command sergeants major from across the Virginia Army Guard ran each station and tested the Soldiers on their knowledge.

The night concluded with a group meal before resuming the next day with appearance boards. Following the boards on Sunday morning, scores were tallied and McEnaney and Yonts were named the winners.

“I knew we took two good Soldiers in there but I also knew the competition was tight,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Wesley Pinckney, the 429th BSB command sergeant major. “I thought they were going to win but to actually see it, to have two Soldiers from my battalion win such a prestigious competition was overwhelming.”

“I think it demonstrates there are some really good Soldiers in the 429th,” he added. “The maneuver elements need to know that we have some good Soldiers to support them, so to show them that we do have these great Soldiers is important.”

“I am proud but at the same time very humbled because I had nothing to do with it,” said Lt. Col. Billy Tucker, commander of the 429th. “It was a program conducted and evaluated by the NCOs of the battalion. It makes me proud for the quality of Soldiers we ran through the competition, but also for the quality of the NCOs who prepared the Soldiers for success.”

A resident of Richmond who is originally from Ellicott City, Md., McEnaney is a wheeled vehicle mechanic who served 14 years on active duty before joining the Virginia Army National Guard in 2007.

Yonts, a Cincinnati native who now resides in Lynchburg, is a chaplain assistant who has served in the Virginia Guard since 2010.

McEnaney and Yonts each won despite juggling full-time schoolwork while studying Warrior Tasks and brushing up on their Army knowledge. McEnaney is finishing up his degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and interning with Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at the Defense Supply Center Richmond. Meanwhile Yonts is completing his master of divinity at Liberty University.

Lt. Col. Billy Tucker (left), commander of the 429th Brigade Support Battalion recognizes Spc. Timothy Yonts (center) of Headquarters Company, 429th BSB in Danville, and Staff Sgt. Ken McEnaney (right) of Detachment 1, Company F, 429th BSB in Winchester, during a battalion formation April 5, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. Yonts and McEnaney were honored for not only winning the battalion Soldier of the year and NCO of the Year competition but also for being recognizes as the top Soldier and NCO in the Virginia Army National Guard. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Billy Tucker (left), commander of the 429th Brigade Support Battalion recognizes Spc. Timothy Yonts (center) of Headquarters Company, 429th BSB in Danville, and Staff Sgt. Ken McEnaney (right) of Detachment 1, Company F, 429th BSB in Winchester, during a battalion formation April 5, 2013 at Fort Pickett, Va. Yonts and McEnaney were honored for not only winning the battalion Soldier of the year and NCO of the Year competition but also for being recognized as the top Soldier and NCO in the Virginia Army National Guard. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“It was a real challenge for me to study and retain everything and keep it all in my head plus my schoolwork,” McEnaney said.

“I was just surprised at the amount of stuff I thought I knew that I didn’t know,” Yonts added. “It was difficult to remember Warrior tasks and Army knowledge while I was in school. Trying to remember all the technical details of each task was the hardest part.”

As winners of the statewide competition, each Soldier gets his choice to attend one of a number of Army schools. Both said they are planning to choose airborne school.

“It’s great that we get to choose from all these schools,” McEnaney explained. “But going to airborne school is something I’ve been looking forward to my entire Army career.”

“I really didn’t really expect all the fanfare that came with winning,” Yonts said. “I was surprised at how excited everyone in the battalion is about it.”

Now the two will prepare for the regional competition next month. It’s just enough time to brush of on the things they missed and sharpen some other skills they know they will need.

“I think it will be a lot more physical,” McEnaney said. “So I’m going to do a few road marches and keep working on PT.”

“I’m really proud of them,” Pinckney said. “It’s really good to be the sergeant major of such a fine group of Soldiers.”


Photos: 2012 Virginia Army National Guard Soldier and NCO of the Year competition