Army awards 21st TSC private USAREUR Soldier of the Year

Arthur McQueen and Pfc. Matthis Chiroux
U.S. Army, Europe Public Affairs Office

***image1***A private from the 21st Theater Support Command recently won the 2005 U.S. Army, Europe Soldier of the Year competition.

Pfc. James Halog, 5th Quartermaster Detachment parachute rigger stationed at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, won the competition that took place in Grafenwoehr Training Area from Aug. 1 to 3.

He and Sgt. Jeremy Kamphuis, 127th Military Police Company, 18th Military Brigade, winner of the NCO of the Year, will now represent the USAREUR in the annual Department of the Army competition, held in Ft. Lee, Va., from Sept. 26 to 29.

The winners were announced Aug. 16 during a formal banquet held at the Village Pavilion in Heidelberg, Germany. Gen. B. B. Bell, the commander of USAREUR and 7th Army, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gravens, USAREUR and 7th Army’s command sergeant major, were present to award the Soldiers for a job well done.

Private Halog said his excitement during the presentation of awards was almost too much to hide.
“I was so surprised when I heard my name tonight,” said Private Halog. “I gave my all, but so did everybody else, so it was a big surprise. I just took a deep breath and tried to maintain my military bearing.”

The USAREUR-level competition consisted of three days of rigorous events that provided the Soldiers opportunities to excel in everything from physical fitness to the ability to react to explosive and confusing situations.

Competitors battled mud, moisture and mosquitoes. They also faced a board of this region’s toughest sergeants major during the competition.

The competitors participated in a 10-kilometer rucksack run, a night land-navigation course and multiple weapons qualification courses. A day-long common tasks course tested their proficiency in areas such as first aid, battlefield maneuvering, casualty evacuation, reacting to a chemical attack and handling prisoners of war.

In the end, only two could be named the top Soldier and NCO from USAREUR, but according to the command sergeant major, each competing Soldier represented their unit well, and all should be proud of their accomplishment.

“Seeing this competition, I see how good the Soldiers are of today,” said Command Sergeant Major Gravens. “All of these Soldiers are incredibly professional. They are the envy of every other Army in the world. I wish I would have been half as squared away … when I was a young Soldier.”

Also competing for Soldier and NCO of the year were Spc. Ralph Van Houtem, A Company, 16th Engineer Battalion, Spc. Justin Levine, A Detachment, 39th Finance Bn., Staff Sgt. Anneka Ford, A Detachment, 39th Finance Bn., Sgt. Cesar Liriano, 5th Quartermaster Detachment and Sgt. Jose Rios-Reyes, C Co., 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. Each competitor received coins and certificates from Command Sergeant Major Gravens.

The winners received award packages that consisted of an Army Commendation Medal, $2,000 from various savings bonds, a gold ring, a saber, one business-class ticket from Germany to anywhere in the continental states, a six-night-seven-day vacation package at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany, a free trip to Normandy, France, a free trip for two to Paris, a plaque of appreciation and an assortment of military literature to study in preparation for the next step in their bids to become the U.S. Army Soldier and NCO of the year.

At the Army-level competition, the Soldiers can expect to be pushed to the very edge, physically, mentally and emotionally, and will be tested from every corner of the Army Common Tasks manual, said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Stanfill, an organizer of this year’s competition.