BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Task Force Falcon soldiers from across Regional Command-East gathered on Bagram Airfield to compete in the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon Soldier of the Year Board.
After the strenuous competition, U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Butterfield, Company D, TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Red Cliff, Wis., took noncommissioned officer of the year, and U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Corley, an aircraft electrician with Company B, TF Workhorse, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Cabot, Ark., won the title of junior enlisted Soldier of the year.
“We have the board to prepare soldiers ... to do better at the promotion board and to give young motivated Soldiers an opportunity to set themselves apart from their peers in the eyes of their leaders,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Stidley, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Savannah, Ga. “This event allows senior NCOs in the brigade the opportunity to recognize young NCOs and junior enlisted and to identify the best of the best.”
Each of the 14 soldiers had to compete at the company level and then again at the task force level in order to compete at the brigade-level quarterly board. The winners of the quarterly boards then competed, and each task force sent one soldier and one NCO to compete at the TF Falcon Brigade Soldier of the Year Board. All competitors were required to take a physical test the day of the board, adding physical strain to mental strain.
“They were trying to get the best NCO and the best soldier and to be the best, you have to be the best in all areas,” said Butterfield. “This board tested the limits of both the physical and the mental aspects, especially with the first aid lanes.”
After the PT test came the board. During the board, soldiers were questioned on subjects ranging from uniform wear and promotions to rules of engagement. Oftentimes, more than one person would ask a question at a time, and with a “no-rules” style of questioning, a soldier would find himself trying to don his protective mask, while conducting first aid, identifying bugle calls and answering a question on land navigation all at the same time.
“It’s hard trying to answer four different questions at the same time,” said U.S. Army Spc. Tricia Smith, who works in the personnel office of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Brawler, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Corry, Pa. “But it feels good to do it. It’s an accomplishment, even if I didn’t win.”
“I learned to be able to keep my composure under stress,” said Corley. “You go in, and all the sergeant majors are there trying to intimidate you. You have to be able to go in and be confident, not let them get to you and keep your military bearing.”
“I feel like I’m setting a good example for my soldiers,” said Butterfield. “It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end.