U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs
WAIKIKI — U.S. Army-Pacific announced the names of the two top Soldiers in the Pacific during the 237th Army Birthday Commemoration at Hilton Hawaiian Village, here, June 15.
Staff Sgt. Neal Lang III, Eighth Army, won the USARPAC Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competition, and Pfc. Jose Figueroa, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, won the USARPAC Soldier of the Year competition.
“I’ve worked very hard and made sacrifices to get where I’m at,” said Lang earlier in the competition. “It would be a great honor to represent USARPAC.”
Figueroa offered advice to Soldiers considering entering the tough competition.
“I would tell them to never give up and to train and practice, and it’ll pay off one day,” he said.
The Warrior Challenge is a USARPAC competition designed to find the best NCO and Soldier in the Pacific. The competition consists of scored events that include a written examination, an appearance in front of a command sergeants major board, an M4 carbine qualification, pre-combat inspections, a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, combatives and a variety of demanding warrior tasks.
At the end of the competition, points are tallied and the highest-scoring NCO and Soldier are chosen as NCO and Soldier of the Year for USARPAC.
“Soldiers who make it to this level of competition have already won several different competitions before getting here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Hunt III, command sergeant major, 8th TSC.
“They are all winners and the best-trained warriors in their command,” he added of the elite competitors.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself during this competition because I had to mentor Soldiers, and they showed me how well I could communicate for all of us to be successful,” Lang said.
The two winning Soldiers will move on to a Department of the Army competition held in October to determine the Armywide NCO and Soldier of the Year winners.
USARPAC competition planners looked closely at the DA contest to best prepare their contenders for the next level of competition.
“At this level, the events have to be designed to find the best out of the best,” Hunt said. “The leaders and planners who put the competition together know how to do just that.”
Lang is a launcher section chief with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, South Korea.
Figueroa is a Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced operator with the 536th Maintenance Control Section, 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Brigade, 8th TSC, Schofield Barracks.