Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — A map maker, a military policeman, and a military journalist were walking up a hill.
No, this is not the start to a really bad joke, but one of the scenes during the 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s Warrior Challenge, held here, May 8-11.
The senior noncommissioned officers of the 8th TSC used their past Warrior of the Year competition experiences to create a challenging contest for this year’s contestants.
“We wanted many different events to challenge the Soldiers both physically and mentally,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Napier, NCO in charge of the Warrior Challenge and also NCO in charge of schools for the 8th TSC.
The four-day challenge included a physical training test, an appearance before a board, a written test and essay, weapons qualification, combatives, and ruck marches, and other events crammed into a mentally and physically challenging few days.
“The competition is a great mix of events,” said Sgt. Thomas Calhoun, competitor and, ultimately, the runner-up for the NCO’s portion of the competition. Calhoun is with the 558th Military Police Company, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade. “It helped show me what I need to work on to be a better NCO.”
Although the competition helped bring the competitors to a higher level, the whole process is helping shape the future leaders of the Army.
“Ten months ago when I started prepping for the competition, I had a good knowledge base, but I didn’t know then what I know now,” said Sgt. Erik Williams, competitor from the 561st Engineer Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “The competition is making me grow as a NCO giving me both book knowledge and experience that will allow me to better help my Soldiers.”
Although every competitor wants to be named the winner, getting to this level of competition is also a prize for most of the participants.
“If you told me when I joined the Army almost two years ago, that in 22 months I would be competing in the warrior challenge, I wouldn’t believe you,” said Spc. Cassandara Thondique, competitor and runner-up from the 558th MP Co. “Win or lose, I am competing against the best of the best, and it’s the greatest feeling ever.”
After the action-packed week, the winners were announced in a ceremony at Area X, here.
Pfc. Jose Figueroa, 536th Support Maintenance Co., 45th Sust. Bde., was named Soldier of the Year; and was Williams was named NCO of the Year.
Williams and Figueroa will now compete in U.S. Army Pacific-Command’s competition in a few short weeks, but these Soldiers already have a plan.
“There has to be a balance between work and play,” Williams said. “This weekend I am going to relax and spend some time at the beach, but come the work week, I start my preparation for the next competition.”