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Mass. Guardsman takes first place at Region 1 Best Warrior Competition 
Feature News Story 

Sgt. 1st Class Vanessa Urban, a human resources specialist assigned to Joint Force Headquarters, Massachusetts Army National Guard, recently won noncommissioned officer of the year for the National Guard Region 1 and will compete this August at the Nationals for the Title of ARNG NCO of the year.

Her excellent performance during the 10k ruck march is a first for a female competing in the event for region 1. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Matthew Camara, 65th Public Affairs Operation Center)

Spc. Alicia M. Brocuglio, 130th Public Affairs Detachment, Conneticut Army National Guard 

Camp Smith, N.Y. May 19 – Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Year winners from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine participated in the Army National Guard Region 1 Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Best Warrior Competition of 2012 from May 15- May 17.

The three-day competition determined the region’s National Guard best junior enlisted Soldier and best NCO of the Year based on their strength, fitness and army knowledge in a multitude of Army tasks.

“Win, loose, or draw you learn a lot and take a lot back to your unit,” said Sgt. David Martinsen, NCO representative from New York, “The Army is geared toward deployments, it is definitely knowledge you can use during a deployment.”

The competitors came prepared following months of study and physical training. Each earned a spot at this event by being named Soldier or NCO of the Year in his respective state.

Day one of the competition began with a written exam to evaluate the Soldiers on their Army knowledge and various Warrior Tasks. Each Warrior Task tested the competitors on their ability to react to situations that they could face in a combat situation. The tasks consisted of evaluating a casualty while suppressing fire, responding to civilian media, performing a medical evacuation radio call, searching a vehicle, disassembling a M249, reacting to an Improvised Explosive Device, communicating effectively at a direct leadership level, and a mystery task that the Soldiers were not aware of until they were given the scenario. At the end of the Warrior Tasks the competitors had to stand before senior NCOs and recite the Soldier’s Creed or NCO Creed to display their enthusiasm and dedication to being a Soldier.

The second day of the competition began with the Army Physical Fitness Test followed by land navigation and rifle qualification, a stress shoot and a10 km road march carrying a 35-pound ruck sack. The day ended with night land navigation. By the end of the road march Soldiers displayed the physical and mental stress.

“The ruck march was definitely the hardest part,” said Martinsen, “There was a half mile hill and by the end you were exhausted.”

On the third day competitors wore their dress uniform and individually faced the Appearance Board where senior NCOs assessed them on their oral expression, appearance, Army knowledge and military custom and courtesy.

After enduring strenuous tasks, the participants and staff were invited to attend an informal awards barbecue funded by sponsors and donations from various organizations. The President of the Region 1 Command Sergeants Major Council, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Jenkins of New Jersey presented awards of appreciation and announced the winners.

“This [competition] really gives these Soldiers something to strive for,” said Camp Smith’s Garrison Sergeant Major Tom Seifert, “Every one of these Soldiers are winners. They went through a tough couple days and we selected the best of the best and now we get to honor them.” Massachusetts guard member Sgt. 1st Class Vanessa Urban, Hopkinton, Mass. was named Region 1 NCO of the Year. Urban received gifts from several corporate sponsors, presented by some of the state command sergeants major of Region 1.

“Being NCO of the Year for Region 1 is huge for me,” said Urban. “It is near and dear to my heart I couldn’t ask for anything better I am an NCO at heart.”

Spc. Clay J. Landry Winslow, Maine, was named Region 1 Solider of the Year and was also awarded a certificate for completing the road march in the shortest time. Landry, representing the Maine Guard, also received several gifts.

“The competition brings new people from different states and we challenge each other,” said Landry. “You have to do everything to the best of your ability and give 110 percent” State Command Sergeants Major Frank Wicks, New York and Terrance W. Harris, Maine presented each participant with a coin in recognition of their excellence.

“These competitions are great because they focus on basic skills and really get at the heart of what we are and that is a Soldier first,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse J. Stanley, Plainville, Conn. and Connecticut’s NCO of the Year. Stanley finished well in all areas and tasks and says he plans to continue working hard to be a successful NCO.

“We learn from these events and take those lessons back to our units where we can use them to train our Soldiers and make ourselves better,” said Stanley. Many of the participants had mentors to support them and provide them with motivation and anything they needed to be successful at completing the tasks.

“It is important for everyone to have a mentor,” said Sgt. 1st Class Carlton Overton, Stanley’s mentor. “Even though the Army is set up to be individual tasks, (competitors) need to have that support structure and comfort zone, someone to turn to. No one knows everything and two minds are better than one, when it comes down to it the Army is all about team work.”

The winners of this competition will go on to compete at the National Solider and NCO of the Year Competition at Fort Benning, Ga. in July and August. They will be competing against other Regional National Guard Soldiers.