Neal, Crowley earn top honors in ‘grueling’ competition

| March 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Pfc. Barbara Liau
117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

KALAELOA — Two Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have been named Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year for the Hawaii Army National Guard, following two days of strenuous competition, here, Feb. 20-21.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Neal received the NCO award, while Spc. Dan Crowley was honored with the SOY award.

Spc. Dan Crowley checks a medical mannequin for cracked or broken ribs as part of a warrior skills test for evaluating injuries. Crowley, a health care specialist (combat medic) with Company C, 29th Brigade Support Battalion, won the title of Soldier of the Year for the Hawaii Army National Guard, during the 2010 Noncommissioned Officer and SOY Competition, held at Kalaeloa, Feb. 20-21. The NCO and SOY competition tested the physical, mental and emotional well-being of Soldiers, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Kenui, the Hawaii Army National Guard command sergeant major.

“(The competition’s) purpose is to showcase the professionalism, proficiency and courage that all Soldiers exemplify,” Kenui said.

The annual competition is composed of a series of demanding events designed to challenge even the most battle-hardened Soldier. These tasks include the Army physical fitness test and warrior tasks such as map reading, and weapons assembly and functions check. Candidates also endure a five-mile road march and written test, and they must appear before a selection board.

Crowley, a health care specialist (combat medic) with Company C, 29th Brigade Support Battalion, said Soldiers must prepare far in advance of the competition. He advised future competitors to be well rounded, rather than simply experts in one area.

“This competition selects the best warrior in regards to fitness, skill, military bearing, warrior ethos, warrior spirit, combat effectiveness, technical and tactical knowledge, and leadership,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Oshiba, 103rd Troop Command. “These Soldiers will be put to the test with grueling events with very little time to rest. They are pushed to the edge both physically and mentally.”

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Neal breaks into a run during a portion of the five-mile road march, which he completed in just over an hour. Neal, an infantryman with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, captured the title of Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Hawaii Army National Guard at the 2010 NCO and Soldier of the Year Competition, held at Kalaeloa, Feb. 20-21.Although the competition was meant to extend competing Soldiers to their limits, the Soldiers’ individual and collective safety remained paramount throughout the event.

For example, Sgt. 1st Class Ferdinand Penaflor, the readiness NCO for Co. B, 299th Cavalry, was placed in charge of the five-mile road march. Penaflor walked the route early, competition morning, to make sure the pathway was safe for participating Soldiers. In particular, he looked to clear the area of construction materials and all other road obstructions.

Neal, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 29th Bde. Special Troops Bn., said he believed any one of the competitors would represent the battalion and brigade well in the next stage of competition.

Neal and Crowley will compete in the Army National Guard Region 7 NCO and SOY competition, scheduled April 30 to May 2. This will be the first time the Region 7 Competition is held in Hawaii.

Neal and Crowley will compete against Soldiers from seven other states for a chance to represent their respective state in the national competition, which will be held later this year.




Category: News

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