Story and photos by Sgt. Kevin Thomson
The 4th Engineer Battalion conducted a noncommissioned officer and Soldier of the year competition at Fort Carson Aug. 8-10 as eight warriors battled for battalion bragging rights.
Staff Sgt. Jesse Campos, Forward Support Company, earned top honors as NCO of the Year while Spc. Brian Sheehan, 576th Eng. Company, was named Soldier of the year. Sgt. Geraldine Smith, Forward Support Company, and Spc. Jonathon Weischedel, 576th Eng., earned runner-up honors for NCO and Soldier, respectively.
“The (competition) entailed the whole total Soldier concept, as far as war tasks and battle drills, physical endurances and land navigation. That’s everything you need to be able to shoot, move and communicate,” Campos said.
The three-day challenge consisted of several events to evaluate the knowledge and physical abilities of the battalion’s NCO and Soldier of the quarter winners. The competition kicked off with the “Sapper Physical Training Test” as competitors ran two miles in the Army Combat Uniform, boots, Improved Outer Tactical Vest with plates and their assigned weapon, followed by two-minute pushup and sit-up events.
“It was one of the most brutal PT tests I’ve taken in the Army,” said Sgt. Shawn Murphy, combat engineer, 62nd Eng. Company, 4th Eng. Bn.
The second challenge of the day was hands-on knowledge of five Warrior Training Tasks to include properly donning the M40 field protective mask, evaluating and treating a casualty and correctly identifying parts, assembling and performing function checks on one of three weapons.
“The (Warrior Training Tasks training) every Thursday has helped me along with the tasks that we had to perform here this week,” said Smith. “The company assisted with training on the different tasks … this is how you break down a weapon, and this is how you assemble a mask.”
Soldiers endured a variety of events intended to put their physical and mental skills to the test. The day concluded with a day and night land navigation course at Range 8. Soldiers were given three hours for the day and four hours for the night course to plot five points on their map, navigate the terrain to find those points and then return.
The second day started at 5:30 a.m. With a ruck sack and weapon, the competitors endured a 12-mile road march that ended at the M16 rifle course at range 51 where candidates were required to zero and qualify with their assigned weapons. Upon completion of the range, the NCOs and Soldiers moved to the battalion area where they were matched up for a combatives tournament. The day finished in the battalion classroom with a 50-question Army knowledge written exam.
The final challenge on day three was the board evaluation. Competitors presented themselves in front of a six-member board that asked questions from a wide range of Army topics to include the NCO and Soldier creeds and history, Warrior Ethos, first aid and current events.