As the temperatures soared in southeast Arizona, Soldiers from Signal commands and brigades from around the globe pushed themselves and each other through grueling events here June 9 – 13, during the 2014 Network Enterprise Technology Command, NETCOM, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year Competition.
This year, Staff Sgt. Jose Mosquera, representing the 5th Signal Command (Theater), and Spc. Cole Spoon, representing the 160th Signal Brigade, were chosen as the NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively.
“I’m excited and proud,” Spoon said after the announcement. “I can’t wait to tell the unit and my Family, and to move onto the next level.”
Beginning with the Army Physical Fitness Test in the early morning, June 9, the Soldiers worked against the warm weather and elevation for the duration of the competition. In a number of activities designed to test their overall Soldier knowledge, skills, fitness and ability to think and react, Soldiers were challenged with an M-4 rifle range, Army Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, a mystery task, a written exam and essay, urban orienteering and a board appearance in front of six senior noncommissioned officers from the command.
All of the Soldiers competing had won their respective NCO or Soldier boards from the commands or brigades they represented and had prepared for this level — but none realized how difficult the next level would be.
“This has been the toughest competition I’ve faced,” said Sgt. Samantha DuBuis, representing the 7th Signal Command (Theater). “The elevation was completely out of the norm for me … lots of fatigue and muscle aches.”
“This was a really tough competition with top-class competitors,” Mosquera said. “The number of different events in a short amount of time, the location and elevation combined with the heat made it that much harder.”
Even though they were all competing, there was teamwork and freely exchanged information among the competitors. During the first phase of the mystery task — the obstacle course — all of the competitors were cheering each other on. It was this attitude that carried throughout the competition to the very end.
“I would personally like to thank all the NCOs and Soldiers who participated this week and have already been selected from thousands of troopers within their respective theater commands just to be with us today,” said Brig. Gen. John Morrison Jr., NETCOM commanding general, at the beginning of the recognition ceremony. “You all represent our nation’s very best and it is an honor to serve with you.”
In the end, it was Mosquera and Spoon who managed to nudge out the others for the titles.
“I’m very surprised,” Mosquera said. “I was always striving to win, but these competitors and the competition were tough.
“I’m very proud to represent my command here,” Mosquera continued. “Now I will take some time to rest myself up, then train hard and represent NETCOM well.”
The competition runners-up were Sgt. Edilberto Ramos, from the 7th Signal Command (Theater), and Pfc. Andrew Lee from the 311th Signal Command (Theater).
Mosquera and Spoon are scheduled to compete at the Army Forces Command competition in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, scheduled for July.