Best warrior competition held for Virginia

Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb, Virginia Army Guard Command Sergeant Major, congratulates Sgt. Jimmy Gause, 25, of Alexandria for winning the 2011 Virginia Army National Guard Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competiton at Fort Pickett March 25. Gause serves as an infantryman in the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – According to most immortals, “There can be only one.” Or two in the case of selecting the best warriors in the commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Army National Guard held the 2011 Soldier and Noncommissioned of the Year competitions March 24-25 at Fort Pickett. The Soldiers competed in physical fitness, marksmanship, basic warrior skills, land navigation and faced a board of command sergeants major from across the commonwealth to determine the most qualified Soldier and NCO to represent Virginia during the regional competition later this year.

Spc. Stephen Lambros, 31 of Arlington, the 2011 Virginia National Guard Soldier of the Year.

The board of sergeants major tallied up the points from the events and the board results and selected Spc. Stephen Lambros, 31, of Arlington as the Virginia Guard 2011 Soldier of the Year and Sgt. Jimmy Gause, 25, of Alexandria as the NCO of the Year. Both Soldiers serve in the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team and will move on to the regional competition, which will also be held at Fort Pickett.

The Soldiers and NCOs competing in the event all took top honors as the best Soldier and NCO from their units before moving on to contend at the state level contest.

“All of you have done an outstanding job, so, by you getting to this point you’ve done a great job and again that’s kudos to your sergeants major and your units that got you here, who prepared you, your mentors and everyone who stayed with you throughout the training period and also up to this point right here,” said Command Sgt. Major Carl Holcomb, Virginia Army National Guard land component command sergeant major.

“Regardless of how this comes out, you should all consider yourselves winners in this competition,” Holcomb said to the troops before presenting the results of the competition.

Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris echoed Holcomb’s sentiment, “Everyone here are winners. There are around 7,600 Soldiers, NCOs and Officers. Standing here, all of you are the best out of 7,600, so think about that.

Sgt. Jimmy Gause, 25 of Alexandria, the Virginia Army National Guard NCO of the Year.

“There are no losers here – you’re the best Soldiers we have. I really appreciate what you’ve done and all the other command sergeants major and first sergeants are extremely proud of you. Thank you for your dedication, sacrifice and everything you do. Hooah!”

Many of the Soldiers studied and trained by themselves or with their counterparts within their unit for months before going against the best of the best at the state level. The winners of the competition were studying their “study guides” and notes they had prepared up into the last minute before going in to face the board.

“As far as physical fitness, that’s something that I do, it’s a lifestyle. I’m always staying in shape, so that was nothing new,” said Lambros, a medic in 3rd battalion and a police officer in Arlington County. “I shoot all the time on my own, for my job and for fun, so being able to come in here and pick up an M-4 is nothing new. It was good to know that my training in the past is still coming through for me.”

“Studying the study guide definitely paid off,” said Gause. “We hit the books hard and I think it definitely paid off. It shows the effort we put in is really what we got out of it.”

The Soldiers selected to represent Virginia at the regional competition are excited to represent their units and the state at the next level of competition and they are confident in their ability to put Virginia’s best face forward.

“I think in the end we want to find someone who will represent Virginia, and we’re proud to be part of the Virginia National Guard and we’re honored to be part of this organization,” said Lambros. “We want to go out and represent in the regional and nationally. We want to let the world know that the Virginia National Guard is a serious organization; we are professional; we take pride in what we do and we are honored to be a part of it, and I think this is an opportunity to reflect those values.”

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