Spc. Saral Shrestha and Staff Sgt. Matthew Senna were selected as the 2012 Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively, after competing in a grueling Army-wide Best Warrior Competition.
The winners were announced on Monday, Oct. 22, during the Sergeant Major of the Army Luncheon at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Shrestha, a 91D10, power generation equipment repairer to the Group Service Support Company, Group Support Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, United States Army Special Forces Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., has served in the Army for three years.
He has deployed to Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom.
A native of Nepal, he holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information science from Bellevue University and is airborne qualified.
His goal in the Army is to become a noncommissioned officer and complete the Army Ranger Course.
Eventually, he hopes to attend Officer Candidate School and the Army Special Forces Selection Course.
He also wished to continue his civilian education by obtaining a master’s in computer engineering.
Senna, an 11B Infantryman from Bravo Company, 7th Army NCO Academy, Germany, has served in the Army for 10 years.
He was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Folsom, Calif., native is air assault and combat life saver qualified and is certified in all levels of combatives and a number of other Army training programs.
Currently pursuing his associate’s degree, Senna plans to finish his bachelor’s, be inducted into the Sergeant Morales Club and attain the rank of command sergeant major.
Like Shrestha, his goal is also to attend Ranger School.
According to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, this year’s Best Warrior Competition was somewhat different from last year’s competition.
Chandler said it was "not all about warrior tasks and battle drills" but it included more "cognitive thinking" and "creative thinking."
Chandler added that they wanted to "stress folks mentally to see how they would perform."
He also said that the contestants’ responses were not disappointing.
"The difference between the winner and the next soldier [in the score rankings] was literally a thousandth of a point," he said.