Story and photos by Sgt. Craig Cantrell
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
Soldiers assigned to Fort Carson battled for the titles of 2011 Fort Carson Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year May 10-13.
The competition is held annually to determine who will represent Fort Carson in the III Corps competition.
Soldiers from all over Fort Carson competed in events to showcase their skills on tactical and technical proficiency, and endured a variety of events intended to put their physical and mental skills to the test.
“This competition to me has been very challenging, both physically and mentally,” said Staff Sgt. Cliff Klaye, 230th Finance Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, who competed in the NCO of the Year category.
Sgt. Julie Foster, 759th Military Police Battalion, and Spc. Thomas Collier, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, earned the titles of NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively. Klaye and Sgt. Nathaniel Cerda, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., finished runner-up in the NCO and Soldier categories, respectively.
The competition began with an Army Physical Fitness Test, which included standard pushup, sit-up and two-mile run, and some added events such as pull-ups and a rope climb.
The next event in the competition was a 12-mile foot march across the prairie and ended at the firing range where the competitors displayed their marksmanship abilities.
“Personally, that 12-mile ruck march, I felt like I wanted to quit and I didn’t,” said Sgt. Benjamin Frausto, 3rd Bn., 16th FA Reg., 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
The competitors were then taken to a land navigation course where they were given a specified amount of time to find their points on a map and return. The two-part land navigation event consisted of a day and night portion.
The following day, contenders were matched up against each other to battle in the cage at the Fort Carson Modern Army Combatives Program fight house.
The competitors then moved to Pershing Field to conduct common task training with weapons disassembly, assembly, functions checks, first aid, range cards and grenade throws.
“I’m more of a smart kid, than a strong kid,” said Foster, noting her strong points were the board and the tests.
The final day of competition was full of mental challenges. Soldiers had to take a written test, write an essay and appear before a board of command sergeants major that fired questions at the competitors who sat before them.
The final scores for the competitors were tallied and the winners were determined by their overall performance during the weeklong event.
The competition concluded with a ceremony of congratulations, awards and local community sponsors handing out certificates to the winners.