KNIGHTDALE, N.C. - On a dark, deserted road, a group of soldiers gathered for a pre-dawn physical fitness test as part of the 518th Sustainment Brigade’s Best Warrior Competition. For many, completing the test invokes anxiety, but it is enjoyable for Staff Sgt. Jennev Heng, it’s one of the best places to be.
Although Heng may have preferred the early-morning event be held after sunrise, she was ready.
This is “something I strive at and enjoy doing,” the Sanford, N.C., resident said. The former Minnesota State cross-country athlete thrives in this environment, as her previous physical fitness test performances of perfect 300 scores confirm. This highly capable staff sergeant not only earned the highest score on the APFT, but also won the in the 518th Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., Jan 9-12.
While Heng, a platoon sergeant with the 1006th Quartermaster Company, excelled in the APFT category, she also remained toward the top of the rankings throughout the competition. By day three, she was clearly a top contender. She fired marksman with her M16A2 rifle on the qualification range, found all land navigation points successfully, finished third in the 10-kilometer road march, and also kept her cool during a nerve-racking command sergeants major board.
“I am [pleased] with my results so far,” Heng, a Lincoln, Neb., native, said of her performance on day three. “It’s grueling doing things back to back. I wish I had done better on the ruck march, but we had just done a PT test the day before, and had to get up at three in the morning. It’s just the factor of not getting rest in between.”
Although this is a competition, this type of performance from Heng isn’t unusual according to her first sergeant and competition sponsor, 1st Sgt. Todd Urban, 1006th QM Company. “She’s a no nonsense, get the job done NCO [noncommissioned officer]. I give her something and she executes.”
“She’s squared away as a platoon sergeant,” he said. “She truly leads by example. I didn’t realize it, but [APFT] wasn’t always a given max. She’s well rounded, squared away, and manages her platoon well. She’s always taking care of her soldiers, does research and finds answers and applies common sense to things.”
Her first sergeant’s description of Heng is also echoed by her soldiers.
“Staff sergeant Heng is my platoon sergeant and she’s hard, but makes sure everything is done. She is organized and as a platoon we usually finish all tasks and are waiting on the other platoons to catch up,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Walters, a squad leader in Heng’s platoon. Although older in age and close to Heng in time in rank, Walters said that he and the other soldiers would like to learn from her.
That dedication to her soldiers is one of the reasons that she decided to do this competition.
“This will motivate the soldiers more than anything because being in the reserves people think it’s just one weekend a month, two weeks a year; but to see somebody in a leadership position do something like this, I hope will motivate them to maybe come out next year and start training harder and take things more seriously,” she said.
At the young age of 26, Heng has been a staff sergeant for almost five of her nine years in the Army. Her quick rise through the ranks has been earned, said Urban.
Many soldiers say they love the Army, the way of life and the adventures, but others show how they feel in different ways. The 518th Best Warrior Competition NCO of the Year named her dog Ranger. She is the youngest platoon sergeant in the 1006th Quartermaster Company. Her quick advancement is a testament to her character, said Walters who attended the competition as a sponsor for another competitor.
Now, Heng will be able to show soldiers throughout the command her abilities and leadership style as she moves forward to the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Best Warrior Competition in March.