FORT PICKETT, Va. — Spc. Adam Sotelo of the Virginia National Guard was named Soldier of the Year at the Region II Best Warrior Competition May 31, 2015, after a three-day competition at Fort Pickett. Va. He is an infantryman from Arlington and assigned to the Winchester-based Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and is currently enrolled in the police academy with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. Sgt. Robert Cunningham, of the West Virginia National Guard’s 119th Engineer Company (Sapper), earned the title of Noncommissioned Officer of the Year at the competition, and both Soldier and NCO will go on to represent the region at the national-level Best Warrior Competition to be held in three weeks in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sotelo and Cunningham beat out five other state-level winners in each of their respective categories. Region II includes Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., and each sent a Soldier and an NCO to compete for a chance to be named best in the region. Sotelo won the state Best Warrior Competition in March, which earned him a spot at the regional match.
The Soldiers and NCOs were assessed on a variety of basic warrior skills such as individual weapons marksmanship, the Army Physical Fitness Test, a six-mile road march, various Army Warrior Tasks including evaluate a casualty and identify key terrain features on a map. In the final day they appeared before a board of sergeants major in their dress uniforms to answer questions and demonstrate their military bearing.
“I did this just to build more experience as a Soldier and learn more skills, stuff that I wouldn’t normally get to do at a typical drill weekend,” said Sotelo of his participation in the event. “This has made me more disciplined. You have to stay squared away.”
Sotelo said he felt “overwhelmed” when Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb, the Virginia Army National Guard command sergeant major, announced him as the winner.
“I’m really amazed in the level of professionalism and also the way that you all participate when you all come through these contests,” Holcomb said. “Every one who got to this level is a winner.”
Holcomb said both the NCO and Soldier of the Year competitions were very close, with Cunningham beating out his closest competitor by five points and Sotelo earning the top spot by just one point.
“The effort was put forth and you all did a really excellent job,” Holcomb said.