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NEWS | Oct. 14, 2016

Sgt. 1st Class Moeller named 2016 Army Best Warrior NCO of the Year

By Timothy Hale U.S. Army Reserve Command

WASHINGTON - For the second year in a row, a U.S. Army Reserve noncommissioned officer was named the 2016 Army Best Warrior NCO of the Year.

Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moeller, the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior winner in May, competed at the Army-level competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Sept. 26-30, besting nine other NCOs from across the Army.

The announcement was made Oct. 3 during the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Moeller follows in the U.S. Army Reserve footsteps of Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink, the 2015 Army NCO winner. He also joins the company of Sgt. 1st Class Jason Manella, the 2013 Army NCO winner, and Spc. David Obray, the 2008 Army Soldier of the Year.

Moeller, a 36-year-old 16-year Army veteran who lives in Riverside, California, is a former cavalry scout and is now a senior drill sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 413th Infantry Regiment, 95th Training Division (Individualized Training), 108th Training Command (Individual Entry Training) in San Diego. He deployed once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

After winning the U.S. Army Reserve competition in May at Fort Bragg, N.C., Moeller said he knew the Army-level competition would be a challenge.

“I know I‘m going up against the entire Army’s best,” Moeller said. “That means I really need to bring my game and step it up a few notches and really study hard for this next one.”

But his journey to the Army NCOY title wasn’t without some personal difficulty along the way.

“Five days after I won the U.S. Army Reserve competition, I broke my right fibula and twisted my ankle 90-degrees to the right playing in an adult-league soccer game,” Moeller said, laughing about it now. “I was pretty concerned that I had taken myself out of the running for the Army competition.”

But Moeller didn’t let his time in a cast take away from his preparation.

“During my recovery my mind was still in the game. I had my face in the books and manuals and I was reading regulations online. Even if I knew something I went back over it because some of that information is perishable,” he said.

Once out of the cast, Moeller and fellow USARC Best Warrior Soldier of the Year, Spc. Michael S. Orozco, along with NCO and Soldier of the Year runner-ups Sgt. 1st Class Robert D. Jones and Spc. Carlo Deldonno, travelled to Fort Harrison, Montana for three weeks of training to prepare for the Army competition.

“The training the U.S. Army Reserve Command put on was more than I could have hoped for as far as the pace and depth and breadth,” Moeller said. “Not only the tactical training but the leadership training we went through. All of it was important to becoming an overall, well-rounded leader and NCO.

“I also attended the Senior Leader Course that was a month-long training of talking everything and anything military with infantrymen, tankers, mortar crews. It was coincidental but extremely helpful,” he said.

The month before the competition, Moeller spent at least one day a week on a range back home in California using his own personal weapons to maintain his proficiency.

Collectively, all of this training helped him prepare for the physical and mental aspects of the Army competition.

“There was so much out-of-the box training events at the Army Best Warrior competition,” he said. “All of the events were designed to get the Warriors to think their way through each event. It was a physical competition but so much more of it was mental.”

He said his toughest event was the 12-mile ruck march.

“I consider myself to be a very strong ruck march Soldier but the toughest hill was at the end of mile three,” he said. “We were gassed but we knew we had nine more miles to go. Usually I can tell within the first few minutes or miles who is strong, who is going to be dropped. But on this one, you had 20 of the Army’s best Soldiers so everyone was strong. I can usually start pulling away but I looked around and there were still Soldiers around me. I managed to catch a group ahead of me but they started to pull away. That’s when those doubts start creeping in and you have to tell yourself to just keep pushing.”

He said after the announcement he was able to immediately share the good news with his girlfriend Lisa Cho, a California attorney.

“I hugged her immediately,” he said. “I was glad she was there to share the moment.” He said his entire family is proud of him and he will be having a belated birthday and NCOY winner celebration in the next few weeks at his mother’s house in San Diego.

In the week following the announcement, Moeller and Army Soldier of the Year winner, Spc. Robert Miller, representing U.S. Army Pacific Command, were treated like royalty the rest of the week at the AUSA meeting and exposition.

“As soon it was announced the fun really started. It was a constant barrage of congratulations,” Moeller said. “We never stopped moving. Media interviews, attending some of the meetings, and canvassing the exposition floor meeting people at all of the displays. I’m a techie-kind of guy and I loved getting to see and get my hands on all of the new technology for the Army.”

Moeller said he would be put on orders to work in the office of the Sergeant Major of the Army for the next year. He will also be making some personal appearances on behalf of the Army and the U.S. Army Reserve at events like the Army All-American Bowl and maybe even the Army-Navy game.

If he had one piece of advice for fellow U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers who want to compete at this level it would be to ask, “What does being a Best Warrior mean to you personally?

“Warrior is in the name. The first thing you have to do is shoot, move, communicate, survive, and adapt and do it again and again. You have to study and keep studying over and over. And take some time to do some self-reflection. When your body starts to give out and those psychological demons start talking you have to be able to shake them off and keep pushing.”

He said ultimately, competing at this level is a personal commitment to increase individual and personal readiness.

“Competing in BWC is training, no matter how you slice it,” he said. “It’s the highest level of training over a long period of time. They need to sharpen and hone their abilities as individuals this directly correlates back to the unit. The individual and the whole team reap the benefits. It’s real-life training that helps every Soldier achieve their fullest potential.”