NCO, Soldier earn top honors in Va. Guard competition

Sgt. David Perry (center right) is recognized as the Virginia Guard NCO of the Year, and Spc. Jeffrey Patteson (center left) is named the Soldier of the Year April 3, 2016, after the three-day competition at Fort Pickett, Virginia.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Sgt. David Perry (center right) is recognized as the Virginia Guard NCO of the Year, and Spc. Jeffrey Patteson (center left) is named the Soldier of the Year April 3, 2016, after the three-day competition at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Sgt. David Perry was recognized as the Virginia Army National Guard Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and Spc. Jeffrey Patteson was named the Soldier of the Year April 3, 2016, after the three-day 2016 Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Both Soldiers are assigned to the Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center.

The competition tested the Soldiers and NCOs in the Army Physical Fitness Test, marksmanship, land navigation, various Army Warrior Tasks and an appearance board. The Warrior Tasks included communicating via a tactical radio, requesting medical evacuation, assembly of an M16 and map reading. The winners will go on to represent Virginia in the regional competition in May.

Staff Sgt. Brandon Davis of the Gate City-based 1030 Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group was the runner up for the NCO of the Year, and Spc. Kerry Conroy of the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was the Soldier of the Year runner up.

“The competition was tough, but we knew it was going to be since we had the best Soldiers and NCOs in the state here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Cheyenne M. Johnson, Virginia Army National Guard State Command Sergeant Major.

The group of brigade-level command sergeants major present when the winners were recognized thanked all the Soldiers for their hard work and for representing their units well. They all agreed that there were no losers at the competition and encouraged them to take what they learned back to their units. Johnson also encouraged the Soldiers to compete again next year or share their experience as sponsors and coaches for Soldiers in their unit who might compete.

Patteson, 42, is a native of Williamsburg and serves as a traditional Guard Soldier assigned to Range Operations at Fort Pickett. He has been in the Army for more than nine years, and he deployed to Iraq in 2011 with Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

“The achievement is great, and it has been a very positive experience,” he said. “I really challenged myself, and the camaraderie amongst the competitors has been really good. This has been an excellent opportunity to share what we have learned.”

Perry, 30, is a native of Fairfax and serves as a military police officer assigned to Range Operations at Fort Pickett. He has been in the Army a little more than three years.

“This is a huge honor and privilege,” he said. “Not a lot of people get to this level, but if you want it enough and work at it, it takes you places.”

Both Soldiers credited Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gibbs and the NCOs from MTC and Range Operations with assisting them prepare and making the resources available they needed. Patteson and Perry trained together to get ready for the competition.

“We put a lot of time and energy into getting the Soldiers prepared, and I had confidence in them that they would do very well,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs explained that he emphasized the importance of the competition when he became the installation command sergeant major last year and thanked the NCOs at Fort Pickett for everything they did to help the Soldiers in pulling everything together to be successful.