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NEWS | May 13, 2024

MIRC conducts Soldier and NCO of the Year competition; An event by soldiers, for soldiers

By Lt. Col. Joshua Frye Military Intelligence Readiness Command

The Military Intelligence Readiness Command (MIRC) conducted its annual Soldier and noncommissioned (NCO) of the Year competition April 10-15, 2024, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

13 competitors from across the command and country assembled to participate in a series of challenging events. The winners are scheduled to compete at the U.S. Army Reserve Command level.

“This year the big difference is the level of support we received from the staff. We had the largest cadre and largest number of competitors in the four years I’ve been part of this competition,” said MIRC G3 operations sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Jill Johnson.

Events included a 12-mile ruck march to three-hour standard, combat water survival skills training, day and night land navigation, situational and medical lanes, obstacle and confidence courses, and skills testing.

As a final event, MIRC command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Bailey, presided over a board comprised of five MIRC command sergeants major that evaluated the competitors’ knowledge.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of competitions – this by far the best one I’ve ever seen,” said Bailey. “I see us getting better every time. Learning what works and doesn’t work.”

After six days of competition, the MIRC selected the winners and runner ups in a ceremony held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s historic French Theater.

Winner of NCO of the Year Sgt. Tiger Colunga, of Dallas, Texas, is assigned to Detahment 1, U.S. Pacific Command Army Reserve Element, Fort Meade, Md and represented the 648th Regional Support Group.

The runner up was Staff Sgt. Galen Hall, an infantryman assigned to A Company, 549 Military Intelligence Battalion, San Antonio, Tx.

Soldier of the Year Spc. Kyle Cook is from Newberry, Fl. and is assigned to A Company, 321 Military Intelligence Battalion, Orlando, Fl.

The runner up was Pfc. Alex House, assigned to A Company, 325 Expeditionary-Military Intelligence Battalion out of Ft. Devens, Ma.

This year’s event was an entirely noncommissioned officer driven event. NCOs from across the MIRC planned and executed the training. “They provided training and mentorship to these junior soldiers and competitors,” said Bailey. “I saw our soldiers enjoying doing soldier things.”

Participants also enjoyed the opportunity to board CH-47 Chinook helicopters belonging to Fox Company, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, 244th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, Army Reserve Aviation Command. “This is the first time where we received air support. For them they were super excited. The feedback we got afterwards – they were just thrilled,” said Johnson.

Following a daytime safety and cold load training session, MIRC soldiers and NCOs participated in a nighttime exfiltration off the land navigation training site.

Johnson singled out the support staff and cadre, in charge of the 2024 event. “This is one of those events that is probably 99% NCO driven. This is all planned by NCOs. That’s what’s so important about these competitions.”

Not only did competitors do their best to make it to the next level, NCOs used the opportunity to hone their craft and lead soldiers. Johnson remarked, “It’s a great way for NCOs to practice their peacetime and wartime missions in a controlled environment.”