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Army names NCO, Soldier of Year


By Gary Sheftick

October 4, 2005

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 4, 2005) - "Fall back on your training: it will carry you through," said Sgt. Jeremy S. Kamphuis, the Army's NCO of the Year who returned from Iraq just six months ago.

The NCO and Soldier of the Year winners were announced Oct. 3 during an awards luncheon at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting. Sgt. Chad H. Steuck, who received his stripe a month ago, was named the Army's Soldier of the Year following a week-long competition at Fort Lee, Va.

Steuck serves with the 10th Mountain Division's new 4th Brigade at Fort Polk, La., and represented Forces Command in the competition.

Kamphuis represented U.S. Army Europe. He serves with the 127th Military Police Company in Hanau, Germany, and spent a year with the unit as a team leader in Baghdad.

NCO advises on facing combat

During his time in Iraq, Kamphuis said he was in about 10 combat engagements, ranging from being fired upon during presence patrols, to improvised explosive devices hitting his convoy, to a police station being attacked by insurgents.

About 50 to 60 insurgents attempted to overrun an Iraqi Police station in Baghdad, Kamphius said, and his MP team helped defend it.

"You don't think (training) will get you through combat," Kamphuis said, "but it will."

While in Baghdad, Kamphuis also finished his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and is now working toward a master's degree.

When he arrived back from Iraq in April and finished block leave, Kamphuis said his first sergeant told him to prepare for an NCO of the Year board taking place in just three days. While some of the competitors had months to prepare, Kamphuis said he "fast-tracked" the competitions.

In way of advice to others who might compete in the future, Kamphuis said "internalize the word 'ethos'" and "always give 110 percent."

Soldier helped guard DMZ

Steuck served for a year at Camp Casey, Korea, with C Company, 2-9th Infantry, before being assigned to the new brigade unit of action at Fort Polk. Now, he said it's rumored that his new brigade will deploy next year.

"I've always known I could push myself farther," said the Soldier of the year, "but I never knew it would lead me here."

He said the SOY competition was the "biggest professional development experience I've been through." He said being around extremely motivated Soldiers in the competition helped keep him motivated.

Cody: Winners represent 1.2 million

The Army's 10 major commands each provided a finalist in the NCO and Soldier of the Year competition. (FORSCOM, USAREUR, Training and Doctrine Command, Army Materiel Command, Eighth U.S. Army, Medical Command, U.S. Army Pacific, Space and Missile Defense Command, Special Operations Command and U.S. Army South.)

All 20 finalists were recognized at the AUSA awards luncheon.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody said the two winners represent more than 1.2 million men and women in uniform today (including the Army Reserve and National Guard).

"Every Soldier and NCO who competed this year - not just the 20 who came to Fort Lee, but thousands - were all winners, all great Soldiers," Cody said.

"We ran them through some pretty rough paces," Cody said of the NCO and Soldier of the Year competition.

Preston: Competition grows leaders

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston oversaw the competition at Fort Lee Sept. 25-30. He said this year, the competition not only involved warrior tasks, range fire and land navigation, a written exam, oral board and PT test - it also included a mystery event at 1:30 a.m., which included pre-combat checks before engaging targets with flare illumination.

"It would be difficult in the light of day, let alone with a red-lens flashlight," Preston said of the pre-combat checks in which competitors were required to identify seven of 10 deficiencies.

"Why do we do this?" Preston asked about the competition "...It helps us grow and motivate our young Soldiers into leaders."

"This is one of the things that sets our Army apart from any in the world," Preston said.

The two winners each received a notebook computer, $1,000 savings bond and a family vacation to Shades of Green at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The prizes were donated by organizations such as Geico, USAA, AUSA and the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center.

All 20 finalists received either a palm pilot, MPS player or camera; along with a Swiss army knife, championship ring and other items.

For more information on the Soldier/NCO of the Year Competition see Warriors compete for top honors.

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