FORT BRAGG, N.C. After a weeklong competition during which nine NCOs and nine Soldiers vied for the title of U.S. Army Forces Command Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord field artillery NCO and a Fort Bragg airborne infantryman earned the distinction as FORSCOMs finest.
Sergeant Dariusz Krzywonos, a field artillery surveyor/meteorological supervisor, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is the 2012 FORSCOM NCO of the Year. At 43, the I Corps representative Krzywonos was the oldest Soldier in the competition.
Soldiers earned the right to compete at the FORSCOM level by training and winning a series of events at unit level beginning at their battalions, continuing through brigade, division and corps.
This event is the culmination of a lot of training, and I take pride in knowing that my unit fully supports my military endeavors, Spc. Andrew C. Lester, a Soldier of the Year contestant with 520th Aerial Support Company, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade, I Corps, said.
Four long days of competition tested the Soldiers mettle as they each demonstrated physical and mental conditioning, while exhibiting tactical leadership and Soldier knowledge and skills.
Each competitor was evaluated by a board, the Army Physical Fitness Test, a written examination, day and night urban orienteering, M-4 rifle qualification, warrior tasks and a mystery event. Each competitor demonstrated his best tactical leadership, knowledge and skills in events designed to reveal his strengths and weaknesses.
The most challenging thing for me was not the competition, but the heat, Krzywonos said. As soon as I got off the airplane I knew it was going to test me and it did.
The mystery event, the unaided night rifle marksmanship qualification without optics, turned out to be an ace in the hole for Krzywonos.
This was where I excelled, Krzywonos said. After a not-so-successful day at the range, the night qualification helped me to gain back a bit of lost ground.
Soldiers in the competition learned valuable lessons that they hope to share with their fellow team members at home station.
Krzywonos plans to share his experience with his fellow Soldiers.
This competition gave me valuable knowledge that I will take back to the Soldiers in my unit and help better their military careers, Krzywonos said. I will show them the steps I took to get to this level and how to prepare.
Where many place a high valuation on winning such an event, Krzywonos spoke modestly about his accomplishment as if coming in first was only important as a reflection of right thinking.
Its more important for me to know that I did my absolute best than it is to be told that Ive won, Krzywonos said. I did my absolute best I knew it and that would have been enough for me. Dont misunderstand, though; Im very well pleased. Its a tremendous honor.
News of his achievement hit home for the JBLM NCO.
My wife and I have been together for a very long time, and for the first time, I heard my wife say, You inspire me, Krzywonos said. That was perhaps the best takeaway of all.
During the July 12 awards ceremony at the Fort Bragg Club, Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin Bohn, FORSCOM command sergeant major and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Christian, a former FORSCOM command sergeant major, presented the awards, including an Army NCO Sword.
FORSCOM Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, Maj. Gen. John R. OConnor, presented Krzywonos with the Meritorious Service Medal.
Soldiers, be proud of what you have accomplished and continue to pursue excellence in all that you do, Bohn said. Krzywonos begins preparation for the final and most intense level of the Armys NCO of the Year competitions the Best Warrior Competition in early October.