‘Heart and soul’ put forth in Soldier of the Year Competition

Story by Sgt. Brandon Tagarook, 202nd Army Band Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

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Staff Sgt. Alexander Vinogradov, 75th Troop Command, prepares to throw a simulated grenade on the Individual Maneuver and Tactics Course at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Nov. 17, 2012. Vinogradov was the winner in the NCO category for the 2012 Soldier of the Year competition. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Spc. Brian Ewalt)

GREENVILLE, Ky –Kentucky’s Best. That is what the State Soldier of the Year represents. It epitomizes what all Kentucky Army National Guard enlisted Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and senior non-commissioned officers strive to be. This includes leadership abilities, general knowledge of Army Warrior Tasks, weapons training, land navigation, personal appearance, and physical fitness. These tasks are designed to stress the individual not only physically but mentally.

“A lot of studying, a lot of preparation, a lot of time went into it,” said Sgt. Nicholas Anglin from 138th Fires Brigade Signal Co., when asked about how he prepared for the event. “Preparation is a year round training. You never stop learning, never put the books down.”

Annually, the best of the best gather to test and push themselves in a variety of Army training tasks. They met at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Nov. 16-18.

The Soldier of the Year is not only a competition but a tool to learn about what it takes to be successful. Spc. Christopher Deleon with the 2123rd in Richmond, Ky., plans on going to Officer Candidate School and possibly switching to active duty. When asked how this experience will train him to be a good officer he replied, “It’s very knowledge based. It’s got me to study all the Army Regulations, Field Manuals, and Army Warrior Tasks, so when I become an officer I can teach my Soldiers how to peform and how to better navigate through situations as such.”

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Non-commissioned officers participating in the 2012 Soldier of the Year competition speak with members of the board at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Nov. 17, 2012. Soldiers said going in front of the board was the most stressful part of the event.(Kentucky National Guard photo by Spc. Brian Ewalt)

One of the most stressful events of the weekend definitely seemed to be going in front of the board. The board is made up some of the Kentucky Guard’s senior leaders. Not only were competitors asked certain questions about basic Soldier knowledge, but they were also judged based on how well their uniform appeared. Several Soldiers said the questions asked were among the most important in doing well.

“It really comes down to the questions,” said Deleon. “You can know your battle drills, you can know land navigation, but if you go to the board and you just don’t know the questions…it’s pretty much the biggest thing. Make sure your uniform looks clean and pretty and study the book.”

Soldiers said the whole event felt like everyone wasn’t there to compete but to help each other out. Fellow competitors cheered others during the Army Physical Fitness Test. If there were any questions on how to use a map and compass everyone was more than willing to help out.

“I am awe-inspired, I’m humbled, and I am proud of everyone who participated,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Armstrong about this year’s group.  “What a great group of Soldiers. If you’d all been down and witnessed what I saw on the PT track, a lot of heart and soul. A lot of heart and soul out on the compass course, and it hasn’t stopped all through the competition. I am very humbled to be one of the senior leaders of the Kentucky Guard.”

The event was broken up into three different categories. Enlisted, NCO, and Senior Enlisted.  Here are the results for each category.

SOYC2012 237Enlisted : Winner – Spc. Nicholas Ray, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

1st Runner up – Spc. Christopher Deleon, 75th Troop Command

SOYC2012 240NCO: Winner – Sgt. Alexander Vinogradov, 75th Troop Command

1st Runner up – Sgt. Cody Ashcraft, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

SOYC2012 244Senior Enlisted: Winner – Master Sgt. John Hazlett, 238th Regiment

1st Runner up: 1st Sgt. Mathew Roberge, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

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