FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers and noncommissioned officers from around the state participated in the 2017 Virginia Army National Guard Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition Feb. 24-26, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The three-day competition included the Army Physical Fitness Test, marksmanship, land navigation, Army Warrior Tasks and an appearance board.
“The best part of these competitions is the camaraderie and bonds formed between the competitors,” said Sgt. David Perry, assigned to Fort Pickett’s Maneuver Training Center. “I am proud to have the privilege of knowing such outstanding individuals.”
The competition kicked off early the first day with the Soldiers and NCOs tackling the APFT, designed to demonstrate upper body strength, core strength and endurance. Next, the competitors proved their marksmanship abilities with a known-distance M16 qualification course and a distance combat multi-target course. To close the first day of the competition, the candidates launched onto the land navigation course, where they were required to find three points.
“All the obstacles had their own challenges, but I would have to say the land navigation gave me more trouble than it should have this year,” Perry said. “Despite walking that course often, many of the points were well into the swamp area and the fatigue from earlier activities certainly played a part.”
The second day consisted of further mental and physical testing for the competitors. A total of seven stations were spread across a seven mile course where Soldiers and NCOs were required to complete various Army Warrior Tasks, including identifying terrain features, stop bleeding of a chest wound and perform call for fire. . With grid coordinates and full rucksacks, the troops set out in teams of two to find the stations scattered around Fort Pickett.
All candidates completed every station, with the most challenging varying from assembling a box of parts into an M16 and M4, to calling in artillery support.
“I know I’m not perfect at any one task. There’s plenty of other Soldiers and NCOs who are far better marksmen, athletes, and scholars,” said Perry. “I just do my best to find the balance, maintain myself, and be a good role model for others, especially my daughter.”
Spc. Mackinley Canan from Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was selected as Soldier of the Year and Sgt. David Perry was selected as NCO of the Year for the second year in a row.
“Thank you all for what you’ve done,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Cheyenne M. Johnson, Virginia Army National Guard State Command Sergeant Major, to the group of competitors at the closing ceremony of the event. He praised the Soldiers for their hard work and professionalism.
The competitors were selected from units spread across Virginia. . The champions of the state competition will go on to represent Virginia in the regional competition in Pennsylvania later this year.
View more photos from this event on Flickr:
Va. Guard troops compete for title as Virginia’s top Soldier, NCO