Army Announces Best Squad, Soldier and NCO of the Year

Army Announces Best Squad, Soldier and NCO of the Year

Best squad
Photo by: Jeromie Stephens for AUSA

Five soldiers from Army Special Operations Command are the winners of the Army’s 2023 Best Squad Competition.

Sgt. Jacob Phillips, Spc. Chancellor McGuire, Staff Sgt. Andre Ewing, Spc. George Mascharka and Spc. Shane Moon were named the winning squad Oct. 9 during a luncheon at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, McGuire was named the 2023 Soldier of the Year, and Phillips is the NCO of the Year.

“One of the things that makes our Army so successful is people. People like you, who are tough and go far beyond the normal to achieve success,” said Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, director of the Army Staff, who was the event’s keynote speaker.

Piatt emphasized the importance of being ready regardless of resources. “Anyone can lead when conditions are perfect,” he said. “You have made it clear that you can lead under the harshest conditions.”

The profession of arms takes a toll on those who serve, Piatt said, so it is important to watch out for other soldiers. “Lead with strength, but also lead with compassion,” he said. “We are a values-based organization. … That is what makes our Army strong.”

The Best Squad Competition, overseen by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer, took place Sept. 24–Oct. 6 at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and in Washington, D.C. Twelve squads representing major commands across the Army competed in the event. Each squad had five soldiers—a squad leader who is a sergeant first class or staff sergeant, a sergeant or corporal team leader and three squad members in the ranks of specialist or below.

The competition featured fitness and combat skills events, including the Army Combat Fitness Test, weapons lanes, a 12-mile foot march and individual warrior tasks and squad battle drills. It culminated with a board-style interview testing the soldiers’ knowledge and professionalism in front of top Army leaders.

“We exist to fight and win,” Weimer said. “You represent what it means to be ready for when we say ‘This We’ll Defend.’ I couldn’t be more proud of every single team that participated in this event.”

Honorary SMA

Weimer also announced Oct. 9 that retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer, a former director of NCO and Soldier Programs at AUSA, is this year’s Honorary Sergeant Major of the Army.

“I don’t think thank you is a strong enough word to convey how grateful I am for this great honor,” said Spencer, who enlisted in 1961 and served more than three decades in uniform.

“My journey started over half a century ago when I joined the ‘team of teams,’ ” Spencer said. “I always had someone to my left, someone to my right, and shoulder-to-shoulder we faced whatever the future had in store. There’s always been someone behind me … willing and able to come to my rescue should I falter, and somebody in front of me to show me the way.”

After leaving the Army, Spencer said, he joined another team, AUSA, where he continued his lifelong passion for taking care of soldiers, families and veterans.

“I was a soldier. I am a soldier, and I will always be a soldier,” Spencer said. “My sincere wish for everyone in this room is that you may be in heaven 30 minutes before the devil knows you’re dead.”

The tradition of naming an Honorary Sergeant Major of the Army began in 2016 when retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a past president and CEO of AUSA, received the honor.

Past honorees include legendary Army Ranger retired Lt. Gen. David Grange Jr.; former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Frederick Kroesen; Elaine Rogers, CEO of USO-Metro; retired Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth “Rock” Merritt, a World War II veteran of D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge; retired Gen. Carl Vuono, a former Army chief of staff; actor Denzel Washington; and Ted Hacker, president of the American Freedom Foundation.

— Luc Dunn