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AMC announces its Soldier and NCO of the year

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MARCOA Media
Story by Samantha Hill on 07/16/2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. Army Materiel Command named its top warrior at a luncheon here Friday, after nine of the organization's finest competed in the Best Warrior Competition at Camp Atterbury, Indiana July 9-11.

Spc. Jonathan Vazquez of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command is AMC's Soldier of the Year. Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Graves with Army Sustainment Command is AMC's NCO of the year.

AMC Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Ed Daly congratulated all the participants, praising them for choosing a path less traveled. He said their participation in the AMC Best Warrior embodied the NCO creed.

"You have dared to be great and demonstrated that you are not going to settle for average," said Daly. "You're going to strive for perfection every day and accept excellence."

AMC Command Sergeant Major Rodger Mansker said Soldiers tested their Army knowledge and physical strength through a variety of combat training tests. Before Soldiers began, Mansker encouraged them to look out for each other and stay resilient.

"When the days get long and the days get hard, just bite down on it and get after it," said Mansker.

The Soldiers trekked about 30 miles throughout the three-day competition, carrying their military equipment while tackling a variety of scenarios in the summer heat.

"This competition is about standards, Army values and professionalism," said Daly. "Each one of our Soldiers demonstrated it unbelievably well in the three days at Camp Atterbury."

AMC's NCO of the year is a maintenance supervisor with the Army Field Support Battalion in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Graves' Army service began 14 years ago and he is air assault qualified. He was also surprised he won and grateful for the opportunity. For him, the land navigation challenge was the toughest.

"It's a perishable skill, being that we have new technology and we like to lead with that," Graves said. "But when things gets tough and the technology doesn't work anymore, you have to go back to the old skills and remember how to use the map and protractor."

Though the competition was tough, Graves said he focused on making it to the end of each challenge, doing his best.

"My battalion command sergeant major told me to do my best, and I didn't want to let him down," said Graves.

AMC's Soldier of the year is a support systems specialist with the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element, 832nd Battalion, in Fort Eustis, Virginia. Vazquez started his military career just over a year ago. He said he was surprised he won.

"I was in shock," said Vazquez. "I was filled with emotion - and happy at the same time."

For Vazquez, the ruck march was the hardest challenge, but he was able to push through with one thing on his mind.

"Thinking of my family is what kept me going," said Vazquez. "That's my energy. That's what helped me out to keep me moving forward."

Vazquez and Graves will compete in the Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia and the Pentagon from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5.

The first runner up for NCO of the year is Staff Sgt. Christopher Hart with Army Sustainment Command. Hart is a senior mechanic with the Army Field Support Battalion in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. His Army service began 15 years ago.

Other AMC Best Warrior competitors included:

- Staff Sgt. Charles Cryoskie, a contracting NCO with the 715th Contracting Team, 921st Contracting Battalion of the 413th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

- Sgt. 1st Class Enes Memic, a contracting NCO with the headquarters, 409th Contracting Support Brigade in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

- Staff Sgt. Matthew Martin, a movements NCO for Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

- Sgt. John Caruthers IV, an intelligence analyst for the Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal.

- Sgt. Timothy Scheid, an information technology specialist and is the communications chief for the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, 832nd Transportation Battalion, 597th Transportation Brigade at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

- Staff Sgt. Duane Butler, a wheeled vehicle maintenance NCO with the TACOM Integrated Logistics Support Center in Detroit.

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