NCO and Soldier of the Year Announced
The winners of the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition were announced Oct. 8 during the Sergeant Major of the Army Awards Luncheon at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.
The 2018 Soldier of the Year is Cpl. Matthew Hagensick, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the NCO of the Year is Sgt. 1st Class Sean Acosta, 1st Special Warfare Training Group.
Hagensick serves as an infantryman and has been in the Army for three years. Acosta is a civil affairs specialist with 12 years of service. Both soldiers come from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
During the six-day Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., 22 of the Army’s finest representing 11 commands test their Army aptitude by conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.
These soldiers represent the best of America’s Army, said Gen. James McConville, Army vice chief of staff.
“We have the world’s greatest Army because we have the world’s greatest NCO corps,” McConville said. “Every single year, we bring in 130,000 new soldiers, knowing nothing about the Army. Our noncommissioned officers make them great soldiers.”
Before presenting the awards, McConville related two examples of enlisted leaders who epitomize what an NCO should be: Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder and Command Sgt. Maj. Alonzo Smith.
McConville asked Schroeder a question when they first met: Should an NCO teach soldiers what to think, or how to think?
The answer Schroeder gave, McConville said, is to first teach what to think.
“[Schroeder] told me that we need to train them to move, shoot and communicate. We need to make them masters of their profession, and instill the Army values, before anything else,” McConville said.
Smith is a combat veteran who was wounded by an 82 mm recoilless rifle in Kandahar, Afghanistan, causing him to lose part of his leg. After a difficult recovery, Smith became command sergeant major for the 101st Airborne Division.
“When he stood in front of the division, every soldier knew he led from the front,” McConville said.
Honorary Sgt. Maj. of the Army
Also during the luncheon, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey named Elaine Rogers, president and CEO of the United Services Organization (USO) Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore, as the fourth honorary sergeant major of the Army. “This award recognizes one thing – lifelong service to soldiers and their families,” Dailey said.
“This is one of the highest honors I’ve ever received in my 44 years with the USO,” said Rogers. “It’s been such a privilege to serve our military and their families.”
-Luc Dunn for AUSA