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Story by: SFC Thomas Wheeler - 138th Public Affairs Detachment
Dated: Sat, Mar 23, 2013
LATHAM, N.Y.- Sgt. 1st Class David Colliton, a network technician assigned to Joint Force Headquarters, and Spec. Rachel Blanchette, a supply parts specialist with Company E 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation were named Traditional NCO and Soldier of the Year following a weekend competition here March 23-24.
Staff Sgt. Jimsey Roberts, the Readiness NCO for the 719th Transportation Company was named Active Guard and Reserve NCO of the Year.
They joined 11 other Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers, representing the major New York Army National Guard commands, in pitting their skills against one another to win the title of “Best Warrior” during the two-day event.
Each competed in one of three categories; Traditional Soldier of the Year, Traditional NCO of the Year, and Active Guard and Reserve NCO of the Year, with the top Traditional NCO and Soldier going on to represent the NYARNG in the regional event scheduled for May 14-17 at Camp Smith Training Area, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
During the course of the competition, this years’ competitors first had to successfully pass a diagnostic physical fitness test, then negotiate several hands on tasks ranging from maintaining an M249 machine gun to evaluating a simulated battlefield casualty and then finished up with an appearance in dress uniform before a panel of three Sergeants Major where they were subjected to questions covering a range of topics that include military history, customs and courtesies, Army policies, field manuals, and regulations.
“It feels great to win at this level and I’m really proud to not only have competed here but also to have won. It feels really good,” said Colliton, a native of Amsterdam, N.Y. “I was looking for that next challenge so I signed up,” added Colliton. “I just got back from a deployment and wanted to keep charging forward.”
Colliton also added that he looks forward to representing the state at the next level and has hopes he will do the same at the national competition.
Blanchette, who works full-time as the Long Island coordinator for the New York Military Forces Honor Guard , echoed Colliton’s excitement in winning. The key to getting that winning place is hard work, she added.
“Study, study, study, a lot of studying,” said Blanchette. “My Readiness NCO encouraged me to go as far as I could and my squad leader helped me out a lot with the performance tasks.” Roberts, also gave a little advice for future competitors.
“If you are going to do it, give it a 100%’” said Roberts, a native of Newark, N.J. “Don’t just go through the motions. It’s a very prestigious opportunity that only a few get so be proud of it.”
“Be motivated, be hungry, and really want it. Come here to win,” added Colliton.
“You are representing your organization at a high level and by doing so you not only put yourself on the map but also your brigade, your battalion, and your unit,” said Roberts.
“Everybody over the next few months will be talking about the NCO from the 369th that won AGR of the Year,” he added.
New York State Command Sergeant Major Frank Wicks praised the NCOs who ran the competition as well as the competitors. He has high hopes for the future of the NYARNGs program, and high hopes for this year’s regional event, Wicks said.
“I think it was a fantastic competition,” said Wicks. “I think the candidates were well qualified and that the brigades sent the right people to the competition. They all did a great job,” he added.
“I want to continue to model it after the regional competition because that’s really going to help set our Soldiers up for success,” Wicks said.
“I think our chances [of winning at regionals] are outstanding. I’d be surprised if we didn’t take one or two of the regional slots,” Wicks added.