USAMRMC names winners of 2010 'Best Warrior' competition
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command recognized winners and finalists in an April 29 ceremony at Fort Detrick for the 2010 "Best Warrior" Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Competition.
Sgt. Matthew Dickson of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass., was named 2010 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, while Spc. Adam Thompson of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Fort Rucker, Ala., won 2010 Soldier of the Year.
The arduous three-day competition tested contenders' physical endurance, weapons and combat skills, land navigation know-how, bearing and discipline. Just to measure up, each had to reach beyond their personal best.
"You're not really competing against the person sitting next to you," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Stuart of USAMRMC during the ceremony. "There's nothing you can do to prevent that person from doing his or her best." With a look of pleasant surprise, he added: "But from the first day, these competitors were encouraging one another -- you normally don't see that."
Bolstered by camaraderie, competitors faced mental and physical challenges designed to sharpen warrior skills and hone combat readiness.
"These Soldier development programs are like a long-term, strategic investment," said Stuart. "[Leaders] take the time and energy to train, mentor, coach, inspire and motivate our Soldiers in such a way that they want to stay in our military. It's an investment for our country, an investment for our Army."
Thompson, having been with the Army nearly three years, understands how healthy competition and rivalry can bring out the best in Soldiers.
"This competition is very important to readiness," said Thompson. "You can train other Soldiers and teach them how to work hard. This competition develops future leaders."
Dickson, with the Army nearly 4 years, underscored the value that support and encouragement played while he trained his mind and body for competition.
"It helps to have a command that supports what you're going to do," said Dickson. "[USARIEM] allowed me time to train for that, to study and to get in the gym, and to get hands-on time with the weapons."
Joining Dickson at the ceremony were non-commissioned officer runners-up Staff Sgt. Jason Bullock, Sgt. Ester Collins, Staff Sgt. Michael Longfoot, Sgt. Patrick Omara and Sgt. William McGilberry. Attending with Thompson were Soldier runners-up Spc. Carlos Diaz-Rivera, Spc. Ryan Hewlett, Spc. Stephen Mason, Pfc. Jason Roth and Spc. Dennis Scofield. Finalists represented eight subcommands at the competition.
All competitors received certificates of achievement, Commander coins, as well as gifts from GEICO and the USAMRMC Retention Office. Winners Dickson and Thompson received Army Commendation Medals and trophies, a plaque from the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and gifts from GEICO and the Thrift Shop.
For a moment at least, Stuart's high praise outshone the trophies and gifts: "You stepped up to the plate. You said, 'I'm ready to do this,' and I know you're going to be a better Soldier and NCO for this."
Thompson and Dickson readily agreed.
"You should always try to achieve the next step, and that means getting outside of your 'box,'" said Dickson. "Put yourself ahead. And Soldier of Year and NCO of the Year is a great way to accomplish that."
Thompson said: "Great competition. Great training. I would encourage everyone to do this event." Laying aside rivalry, he smiled and thoughtfully added, "I feel like in the last 3 days I've known these guys for years."