News: I Corps Soldier named FORSCOM 2012 Non-commissioned Officer of the Year
Story by Sgt. Mark Cloutier
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - At the end of a four-day competition during which nine non-commissioned officers battled for the title of U.S. Army Forces Command Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord field artillery non-commissioned officer emerged as the face of FORSCOM's finest.
Sgt. Dariusz Krzywonos, assigned to the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, has earned the coveted title of FORSCOM 2012 Non-commissioned Officer of the year.
Having first earned local distinction at Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, Krzywonos continued to win top honor battles as he progressed through the competitive gauntlet of events to arrive at FORSCOM’s most esteemed Non-commissioned Officer competition.
For four long, hot days, the Non-commissioned Officers were put through a grinder of physical and intellectual challenges.
Starting with a weigh-in on the first day, each competitor was evaluated in areas such as the oral board, the Army Physical Fitness Test, a written examination, day and night urban orienteering, M4 rifle qualification, various warrior tasks and a “mystery” event. Each competitor showed up with his best of tactical leadership, knowledge and skills.
The competition, designed to brightly extol both strengths and weaknesses of each competitor, did just that.
“The most challenging thing for me was not the competition, but the heat,” said Krzywonos. “As soon as I got off the airplane I knew it was going to test me – and it did.”
The mystery event, the “unaided” night rifle marksmanship qualification where the use of optics was unauthorized, turned out to be an ace in the hole for Krzywonos.
“This was where I excelled,” said Krzywonos. “After a not-so-successful day at the range, the night qualification helped me to gain back a bit of lost ground.”
The oldest soldier in the competition, 43- year-old Krzywonos noted that the high level of physical and intellectual maturity of fellow competitors was quickly obvious at this point in the Army’s Non-commissioned Officer of the year competitions.
“Right away, I could tell that soldiers were much more physically fit,” said Krzywonos. ”Not just to look at them, but in the physical fitness test as well. They were all very well prepared.
“After talking to them and being with them for a couple of days, I realized that they operated on a different level intellectually; not just that they are smart, but that they have this kind of mindset of organizational wellbeing as their foundational point of view,” said Krzywonos. “These people really embodied the stereotypical passages of the NCO Creed. It was wonderful. Anyone of these people could have won and I would have honestly thought they deserved it.”
Where many may place a high valuation on winning such an event, Krzywonos speaks very modestly about his accomplishment – almost as if coming in first was only important as a byproduct of right thinking.
“It’s more important for me to know that I did my absolute best than it is to be told that I’ve won,” said Krzywonos. “I went into this with the idea that embarrassing myself or my unit and the people who helped me to get here was unacceptable. I did my absolute best, I knew it – and that would have been enough for me. Don’t misunderstand, though – I’m very well pleased – it’s a tremendous honor.
News of his achievement hit home very nicely, as well.
“My wife and I have been together for a very long time, and for the first time, I heard my wife say, ‘You inspire me,’“ said Krzywonos. “That was perhaps the best takeaway of all.”
During an awards ceremony at the Fort Bragg Club, Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin Bohn, FORSCOM command sergeant major and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Christian, a former FORSCOM command sergeant major, presented the awards. Krzywonos was presented with an Army Non-commissioned Officer Sword.
FORSCOM deputy chief of staff, G-4, Maj. Gen. John O’Conner, presented Krzywonos with the Army Meritorious Service Medal.
Moving forward, Krzywonos begins preparation for the final and most intense level of the Army’s Non-commissioned Officer of the year competitions – the Best Warrior Competition, which is to be held in Washington in early October.
“I was told in no uncertain terms – the game changes sharply - starting now,” said Krzywonos. “I must increase my training on all fronts to levels I have not previously been.”