101st holds NCO, Soldier of the year competition

101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance Rhodes

Date: 04.23.2015
Posted: 05.01.2015 11:01
News ID: 161931
101st holds NCO, Soldier of the year competition

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - The 101st Airborne Division held its annual Soldier and noncommissioned officer of the year competition April 20-23 to identify the division’s best Soldier and NCO for 2015.

All competitors scaled the ladder of excellence, but only two would Rendezvous with Destiny.

Spc. Carissa Payeur, a health care specialist, with Company C, 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and Sgt. David Payton, an infantryman, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, earned the chance to move ahead to compete at the XVIII Airborne Corps Soldier and noncommissioned officer of the year competition scheduled for June 9-11 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“This competition is important, because it gives Soldiers, who spend so much of their time training, an opportunity to use those skills,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory F. Nowak, the most senior enlisted Soldier for the 101st Airborne Division. “It shows their expertise with other competitors who are just as highly qualified, and they can enjoy putting these skills to use.”

The competition was broken down into five phases. Phase one began with a day of in-processing, where the units submitted their competitors’ nomination packets.

The following morning at phase two, the competitors turned in written essays, took an Army Physical Fitness Test and weighed-in to measure their physical fitness level.

Next, for phase three, the competitors moved on to the weapons qualification range where they were challenged in basic rifle marksmanship. Once successfully completed, competitors moved on to warrior tasks and combatives drills.

"It's not about one specialized task, or Military Occupational Specialty training," said Sgt. Alisa Ryder, a health care specialist, with the Company C, 526th BSB, 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division. "This competition tests everybody’s knowledge on all aspects of their Army abilities - physically and mentally."

Phase four began with day land navigation in the morning and ended with the competitors performing a night land navigation course.

On the final day, the competitors took part in a board where they were asked questions ranging from military leadership and counseling to Army history.

"The most challenging part of this competition is the pace," said Sgt. David Payton, an infantryman, with HHC, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division. “We have to perform at a high level and competitive atmosphere all day."

Despite the demanding nature of the three-day competition, many of those who attended expressed how beneficial this competition is for all who participated.

"It builds confidence in all who took a chance on coming out here to compete," said Payton. "It shows we can do what we have been trained to do and be an example at our units.

“This competition makes leaders, improves leaders and allows mentoring and experience for us all,” he said.