JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
Their boots slightly sank into the mud with each step, making the road seem tougher to tread.
The inconsistent downpour made the handles of the already over 180 pound filled stretcher almost impossible to carry on the milelong stretch to the finish line of the first day of events.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Dedrick, U.S. Army NCO Academy operations NCO, and U.S. Army Master Sgt. Juan Duque, Army Support Activity operation NCO, hosted the 2018 Service Member of the Year Competition here, commencing Nov. 5.
“It’s a joint endeavor to foster and encourage the competitive spirit between the sister services but also coming together in one event,” said Dedrick.
With four services and eight competitors, the three day competition tested the knowledge, endurance and skills of the individuals with multiple challenges throughout each day. The first being the unique Joint Physical Fitness Test which was comprised of four parts, each representing the different services standards.
“We take the best each branch has to offer in the NCO and junior enlisted ranks and put them together in a head-to-head competition to encourage operating in a joint environment and promote the spirit of competition,” said Dedrick.
Each challenge was comprised of the Defense Departments vision of what military members should be capable of, regardless of their branch of service.
“Each year the competition is held has its own character,” said Duque. “The theme this year was to promote service members that can transcend their branch and operate outside of their respective tasks.”
The competition draws out some of the most competent and capable service members on base. Each military member represents their respective branch, competing against each other in a challenge to showcase the capabilities of the U.S. military.
The rainy month of November drenched the diverse military uniforms as the participants progressed through each portion of the competition. Whether they were navigating through the unstable, soft ground of the forest during land navigation or moving over 400 pounds of weight through a .8 mile road, the competitors were constantly encouraging and motivating each other.
“It’s very interesting to see the comradery built between the different services,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nickolas Kupper, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander’s action group superintendent. “It’s fun to see people who are like-minded who want to push themselves both mentally and physically to represent their branch.”
Representing the U.S. Army,
Sgt. 1st Class Mark Padifeld, 174th Infantry Brigade, 3-314th Field Artillery fire support NCO observer and coach.
Sgt. 1st Class Andre Mangual, U.S. Army NCO Academy senior small group leader.
Representing the U.S. Marine Corps,
Staff Sgt. Lester Dickerson, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 aerial observer.
Lance Cpl. Cameron A. Schimmel, Marine Aircraft Group 49 aviation supply specialist.
Representing the U.S. Navy,
Yeoman 1st Class Kristofer Keating, Navy Operational Support Center command services leading petty officer.
Airman Timothy Lavergne, 305th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller.
Representing the U.S. Air Force,
Staff Sgt. Morgan D. McDaniel, 514th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven.
Airman 1st Class Jarrod Mohr 87th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter.
Winners were Dickerson for the NCO category and Mohr for the junior enlisted category.