Soldiers earn top honors as USARJ's best
OKINAWA, Japan -- Fourteen Soldiers from mainland Japan and Okinawa displayed their warrior skills and talents to see who would be named United States Army Japan's Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during USARJ's Warrior Challenge competition held here April 22 through 25.
The competition allowed competing Soldiers to display their warrior spirit, said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven L. Payton, USARJ command sergeant major.
"The energy for a competition of this magnitude definitely brings out the best in every Soldier," said Payton. "The esprit de corps and the sharing of knowledge exuded in a competition like this by our Soldiers speaks volumes to who they are and they truly represent the 'Ichidan,' or 'One Team,' spirit, as a member of a team of great Solders in our formations across Japan."
During the four-day competition, the Soldiers tested both their physical and mental stamina to conquer events like urban orienteering, day and night land navigation, warrior tasks, weapons qualification with reflexive firing, and a physical fitness test.
In addition to attending a board, competing Soldiers had to take a written exam that included writing and an essay. The event was meant to test each Soldier's mental and physical stability and endurance during the competition.
At the end of the competition only two Soldiers were chosen as USARJ's best NCO and Soldier of the Year. Staff Sgt. Ian T. Munkacsy, an operations NCO assigned to USARJ's Special Troops Battalion, was selected as the NCO of the Year, and Spc. Mara E. Snowman, assigned to the USARJ Band, was selected as Soldier of Year.
For Snowman, the competition proved to be rewarding yet bittersweet for the Cleveland, Tenn., native, she said. On day two of the competition she received notice of the passing of her grandmother.
"It was really hard, but I let it motivate me to work harder." said Snowman. "I know she would have wanted me to compete and give my best effort."
Both Munkacsy and Snowman will represent USARJ during the United States Army Pacific's Warrior Challenge Competition in mid-June.