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NEWS | March 19, 2014

4th ESC names top Soldier, NCO of the Year

By Master Sgt. Robert R. Ramon 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

Eight warriors - the best from units within the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) - arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis March 6 ready to contend for the title of Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year during the command's best warrior competition.

Spc. Benjamin M. Wentz, from the 974th Quartermaster Company in Amarillo, Texas, was named 2014 Soldier of the Year, while Sgt. Damian N. Robinson, from the 356th Transportation Company in Las Cruces, N.M., earned the 2014 NCO of the Year honors at the completion of the four-day event.

"My mindset was to give it everything I've got," Wentz said after putting in about 20 hours on the last day of the competition. "It didn't matter that on that final day, I'd be completely exhausted as long as I gave it my all."

The competition allowed participants to showcase their basic Soldier skills while competing against other top Soldiers within the 4th ESC.

"I think they are the best of the best," said 4th ESC Command Sgt. Maj. Paul C. Swanson. "They presented themselves and their formations well."

The competition included an Army Physical Fitness Test, evaluation on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 small arms simulation, the Dismounted Soldier Training System, live-fire weapons qualification, a warrior tasks and battle drills assessment, an Army combatives competition, land navigation, road march and a board assessment.

The quality of the competitors was apparent from the start, according to the winning Soldiers.

"The first day I felt I was really falling behind because they were doing such an outstanding job," Robinson said of his fellow competitors. "It made me want to work even harder."

"They were awesome," Wentz said. "They gave me a run for my money and it would have been no surprise if any of them had won. I felt like it was very close all across the board and everybody deserved to be there."

Swanson said the competition is more than just pursuing the title of Soldier or NCO of the Year.

"It's important because it teaches them about tradition, competition and all of those skills they need to be proficient in to be great Soldiers," Swanson said. "It also creates camaraderie within our formation and at the end of the day I think we're making better people."

Robinson said he wants to take his experience here "and pass it on to the Soldiers of my unit and to lead by example." Wentz commented that his mindset from the start of the competition was to give his all during every single event.

"I'd say it turned out pretty well for me," Wentz said. "I'll take that same mindset back to my unit; into the civilian world; to college and into everything else in my life."

The winners will represent the 4th ESC at the 79th Sustainment Support Command Best Warrior Competition. The ultimate goal is to compete against the best of the best within the Army later this year.

Swanson's advice to other Soldiers and NCOs throughout the 4th ESC is to give serious consideration to participating in future Soldier and NCO of the Year competitions.

"You miss every shot you don't take," Swanson said. "If you don't take it, you're never going to make it or succeed, so take the shot."

Commanded by Brig. Gen. Norman B. Green, the 4th ESC comprises more than 54 subordinate units and has command and control of more than 6,500 Army Reserve Soldiers throughout Texas, Arkansas and New Mexico.