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593rd ESC names top Soldiers of the Year

Spc. Oscar Ortiz, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, provides casualty care during the medical lanes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 19. Photo courtesy JBLM PAO.

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The 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command named its Noncommissioned Officer, First Sergeant, Junior Officer, Warrant Officer and Soldier of the Year Wednesday.

The competition took place April 17 to 20. It is an Army tradition to have competitions within units to recognize the best Soldiers in the organization. Soldiers compete at the unit level to move on to compete at the battalion then move on to the next higher headquarters.

The winners were announced five days after the final event at the Lancer Dining Facility Wednesday.

• Soldier of the Year is Spc. Oscar Ortiz, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade.

• Noncommissioned Officer of the Year is Staff Sgt. Gregory Tainatongo, Echo, 47th Combat Support Hospital, 62nd Medical Brigade.

• First Sergeant of the Year is 1st Sgt. Heather Buxton, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade.

• Chief Warrant Officer of the Year is Chief Warrant Officer 2 Raul Almendarez, 13th CSSB, 42nd MP Bde.

• Junior Officer of the Year is 1st Lt. Saunghun Ann, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 62nd Med. Bde.

“The Best Warrior Competition is a competition that identifies the best competitor in each category of competition, while they also gain valuable skills and learn more about themselves,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela Williams, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Twenty Soldiers, ranging from the ranks of private through captain were selected by their command to represent their unit in the competition.

“The Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the Warrior Ethos and represent the force of the future,” said Brig. Gen. James Moore, commanding general, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

The Soldiers’ reason for competing was because they wanted to push themselves, the leaders on the other hand wanted to lead by example.

“I ask my Soldiers to go to boards and achieve so I wanted to do the same,” Buxton said.

The four-day competition tested the competitors both physically and mentally through grueling events and little time to rest.

“The purpose of the events during the competition was to identify the best of the best in each of the five categories and to promote (esprit de corps) amongst all the units within the ESC,” said Master Sgt. Brian Evans, event coordinator, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd ESC.

During the four days of competition, the candidates completed the Army Physical Fitness test, qualified with both the M9 pistol and the M4 carbine, maneuvered through an obstacle course, did both the day and night land navigation course, completed an 8-mile ruck march carrying approximately 45 pounds, conducted Tactical Combat Casualty Care lanes and completed the Soldier Readiness Test.

Although it was a competition, teamwork and cohesion is what made the competition a success for most of the competitors, who relied on each other to get through the long days and tough obstacles.

The winners move on to the I Corps Best Warrior Competition scheduled in May.

“The Soldiers and leaders came out and challenge themselves above and beyond, I could not thank the unit leadership enough for encouraging them throughout the 4-day competition,” Williams said.

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