Sierra, Winans selected as 2014 NCO, Soldier of the Year
After a grueling weeklong competition, two Warriors from the U.S. Dental and Trauma Research Detachment were named the 2014 U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year. USAISR Sgt. Maj. Quinton Rice Jr. made the announcement Dec. 12 during an awards ceremony, where he congratulated all of the competitors.
"At the end of this ceremony I want you to know that every competitor is a winner," said Rice. "You have proven that you are the best of the best, not only during this week's competition but throughout the year, and I congratulate you."
Staff Sgt. Pablo R. Sierra III was named the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. He is a native of San Antonio and a dental laboratory technician assigned as the USAISR Training NCO. Selected for Soldier of the Year was Spc. Matthew D. Winans who hails from Wellsville, New York and is a bioscience specialist at DTRD.
"They are two of the most driven and committed Soldiers at DTRD," said Staff Sgt. Shanelle McNair, DTRD non-commissioned officer in charge.
Sierra joined the Army in 2007 and has been at the USAISR for about a year and a half.
"I feel honored for being selected as NCO of the Year," he said.
Sierra said he joined the Army because he wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than him. He attributes his selection to his performance year-round and his determination to always do his best.
"I'm not afraid to try new things or to fail," Sierra said. "Determination is key to gaining the experience needed to succeed."
Earning the Expert Field Medical Badge and getting inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is what Sierra is striving for. "I also want to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and win the U.S. Army Medical Command NCO of the Year competition," he said.
Sierra will have the opportunity to compete at the MEDCOM level if he wins the next phase at Fort Detrick, Maryland'the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command competition in February.
Joining Sierra at the USAMRMC competition will be Winans, who is no stranger to accolades. Winans not only made the Commandant's List at the Warrior Leadership Course at Fort Hood, Texas in September, but he was also selected by his peers for the Distinguished Leadership Graduate Award.
Winans has also been assigned to the Institute for about a year and a half and said he joined the Army in 2012 for multiple reasons.
"Many others in my family have served before I had the opportunity to heed the call," he said. "The Army also continues to help me to support my fantastic wife along with our future family."
Winans said that for now, he is focusing on earning the rank of Sergeant, scoring a 300 on the Army physical fitness test, and applying to the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program.
"My long-term goal is to become a medical doctor and to become fluent in Swahili," said Winans.
He believes that his overall performance at the competition was a reflection of DTRD's support and guidance.
"I was provided ample preparation and support, which translated into a great performance during the competition," he said.
Sierra and Winans said that they are honored and proud to represent the USAISR at the next competition. Their advice to anyone who would like to follow in their footsteps is simple.
"Take the first step and try to compete," said Winans.
"And try your best," added Sierra.
USAISR Company 1st Sgt. Natasha Turrell said she was extremely proud of the two Soldiers.
"These two Soldiers have proven that they are willing to go above and beyond," she said. "I know that they will give it their all and they will represent us well at Fort Detrick."