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    Fort Novosel honors Best Squad, NCO/Soldier of the Year

    USAACE Best Squad 2024

    Photo By Kelly Morris | The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence honors the USAACE Best Squad winner, 1st...... read more read more



    Story by Kelly Morris    

    U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence

    Fort Novosel honored the winners of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Best Squad Competition, the USAACE Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command NCO and Soldier of the Year, in a ceremony at Howze Field May 9, 2024.

    The ceremony follows on the heels of an intensive week of events conducted at Fort Novosel and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, designed to test Soldiers’ physical and mental mettle.

    The 24 competitors hailed from: USAACE's 1st and 110th Aviation Brigades at Fort Novosel and the 128th Aviation Brigade based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command's Combined Logistics Command at Fort Novosel; and the Air Traffic Services Command's 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group.

    The USAACE winners are:
    • The USAACE Best Squad winner is 1st Aviation Brigade: Staff Sgt. Samuel Meyer, Sgt. Leonardo Bautista. Sgt. Connor Wyllie, Cpl. Janat Payne, and Spc. David Carver,
    • The USAACE NCO of the Year is Sgt. 1st Class Cody Randall, 128th Aviation Brigade.
    • The USAACE Soldier of the Year is Pfc. Kayden Obrick, 110th Aviation Brigade.

    The AMCOM competition winners are:
    • The AMCOM ACLC NCO of the Year is Sgt Joseph Folk.
    • The AMCOM ACLC Soldier of the Year is Spc. John Fitzpatrick.

    Ceremony host Col. Richard P. Tucker, USAACE chief of staff, thanked the participants for volunteering to compete.

    “It’s a mark of your dedication and your commitment. We are proud of you,” he said.

    Tucker said he hoped they learned something about themselves and something to build teamwork in the Army’s most important organization, the squad.

    “A true leader’s character is not revealed when everything is going well. It’s when you’re tired, you’re hungry, it’s physically demanding, you’re under stress, there’s chaos, there’s unknown, and those were the conditions this competition intended to place you in,” he said.

    He also thanked the event enablers for showing “what it means for us to continue to invest in the future of our Army.”

    The competition included the Army Combat Fitness Test, weapons qualifications, grenade range, day and night land navigation, a six-mile foot march, obstacle course, written test, and squad appearances before a board of senior enlisted leaders.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Kirk R. Coley, Aviation branch command sergeant major, said the Soldiers put in a lot of preparation for the competition.

    “The teams that were competing were very motivated and happy to be doing something a little bit different from their (military occupational specialty) training,” he said. “It’s always a challenge taking Soldiers away from their full-time job, but based on the time of year and everything, it turned out very well. No one was injured, and we had a good friendly competitive event this year,” Coley said.

    Coley said competitors were as young as 18 years old.

    “We had Soldiers with than a year in the Army, and this was their first time competing at any level, even attending boards,” he said. “It was impressive to watch their maturity, their judgment, their poise under stress and pressure, and wake up every day refreshed and ready to compete again.”

    Focusing on squads meant an opportunity for the more senior Soldiers to coach and mentor the more junior ones, ensuring younger Soldiers didn’t get hurt, took the right nutrition, got the proper sleep and practiced techniques for each event.

    “It’s about whoever that leader is making sure the soldier is prepared for whatever the mission or the training requires. I saw a lot of that this week with all the teams. It’s good to see that,” Coley said.

    Coley lauded the efforts of USAACE staff and the brigades for the coordination, running the ranges, doing the land navigation, and coordinating resources.

    “Thanks to all the team that helped out with this. We wouldn’t be able to do it without all of that support,” Coley said.

    The competition winners received a Best Squad Competition commemorative medal and were awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

    Staff Sgt. James E. Lark Jr., USAACE G-3’s operations noncommissioned officer in charge, said the competition was tight this year, with one of the biggest challenges being the land navigation event.

    Lark, who oversaw the event, lauded the competitors, noting the outstanding effort of Pfc. Chouliun Woo of the 164th TAOG, and Pfc. Nicolis A. Parra, who serves at Lyster Army Health Clinic. Parra volunteered to join Team TAOG for the event when his own organization wasn’t able to send a squad.

    “I like to challenge myself. I always like to be out of my comfort zone. That’s one of the reasons why I joined the Army,” Parra said. “When I heard it was going to be the best squad competition, I went straight to my commanders to see if it was possible to get a team, but we don’t have enough people in my unit, so that’s when I went to other units to see if it was possible to get a slot in a squad.”

    This year, the Drill Sergeant of the Year competition is being held separately in the month of July.

    The winners of the USAACE Best Squad competition will now move on to the TRADOC level competition in August. The AMCOM winners will compete at the Army Materiel Command level.



    Date Taken: 05.10.2024
    Date Posted: 05.13.2024 15:45
    Story ID: 470938

    Web Views: 26
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