Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull
3rd ID Public Affairs
Photo by Spc. Jose Escamilla
Spc. Caleb Seals, an infantryman assigned to 3rd Bn, 15th IR, 2nd ABCT, swings to a wall as part of an obstacle course during the Division’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition, May 6 on Fort Stewart.

Dogface Soldiers vie to be best

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division announced today the winners of its Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Competition held across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, last week. Spc. Gavin Currey, a cavalry scout assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, was named the Soldier of the Year and Sgt. Hunter Davidson, an infantryman assigned to 3rd Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, is the NCO of the Year. Competitors also hailed from the 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade on Fort Stewart, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade from Hunter Army Airfield, and the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment from Fort Benning.

Thirteen candidates attempted to outperform all other competitors in both physical and mental toughness as well as technical knowledge and tactical proficiency to be selected to represent the division in the successive corps, major command, and ultimately, the Army level competitions.

“Both our Soldier and noncommissioned officer winning the competition helps build a long-term culture of success in our brigade,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jaime Lopez, the senior enlisted member of the 2nd ABCT. “These individuals set the standard for professionalism and tactical expertise for others to follow.”

Learning that he was the winner was a profound moment for this division’s NCO of the Year.

“This week of competitiveness has been a challenge, day in and day,” said Davidson. “From both the physical and mental aspects of the competition, I have learned more about myself and recognized my own knowledge within.”

The week-long competition began early on May 3 with an Army Physical Fitness Test. The following day found the candidates on the shooting ranges of Fort Stewart, where they conducted events from the Army’s Combat Fitness Test to stress their ability to shoot with accuracy even while fatigued. The candidates were required to demonstrate proficiency maintaining and employing the M9 pistol, the M4 carbine, the M249 squad assault weapon and the M240 machine gun.

Midweek, the competitors marched 12 miles with their body armor, helmet and fully packed ruck sack to see who could earn the most points toward their overall score by being the fastest. Throughout the rest of the day, the candidates demonstrated their knowledge of basic warrior tasks through several lanes. The graded lanes included performing tasks such as: combat casualty care, request indirect fire support, communications, and react to chemical or biological weapons attack, amongst myriad others. Wednesday concluded with academic testing, challenging their intellectual knowledge after several physically rigorous days.

In the morning on Thursday, the candidates conquered a physically challenging obstacle course, then demonstrated their ability to move across unknown terrain with only a map, a protractor tool and a compass during the afternoon and at night.

As Friday dawned, the competitors donned their dress uniforms and scrutinized their decorations for precision placement. The junior enlisted competitors attended the board chaired by the division’s senior-most enlisted member in the morning, where they answered a series of questions to test their knowledge of unit history, Army customs and courtesies, as well as basic tactical and technical expertise. The NCO competitors attended the board in the afternoon. Upon conclusion of the week’s events, the competition organizers calculated the score cards.

For the junior enlisted Soldier taking the title of 3rd ID Soldier of the Year, the cumulative experience meant more to him than being declared the winner.

“Winning doesn’t matter at the end of the day,” said Currey. “It’s the time, effort and personal sacrifice you put into winning that matters.”

Davidson and Currey will be formally recognized at the division’s Marne Week Twilight Tattoo on May 18.