Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oregon names 2009 soldier and NCO of the year

Above: Oregon Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jesse Ginestar loads rounds into a magazine for his M-4 rifle for qualification during the Oregon National Guard’s 2009 Soldier of the Year/NCO of the Year competition, Feb. 27-March 1, at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Ore. Ginestar, of Klamath Falls, Ore., who is a platoon sergeant with Charlie Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Cavalry, won the title of the Oregon National Guard's 2009 NCO of the year. (Photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Oregon Guard members from across the state met Feb. 27 – March 1, at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., for the 2009 Oregon Soldier of the Year/Non-commissioned Officer of the year competition.

Twelve soldiers--six of them NCOs and six soldiers faced lack of sleep and physical and mental challenges in a shot at the title of Oregon’s best.

The competitors had previously been recognized as the best soldiers and NCOs at the unit level before heading to the State level competition. Winners of the event will continue on to a regional competition later this year.

Guard members put on their class-A uniforms for the first two events, an appearance board followed by an essay.

After a few short hours of sleep, the competitors were back at it before dawn, taking a physical fitness test before moving out to a land navigation course. The soldiers and NCOs got a short break for lunch before heading back out to the field to compete against each other in an obstacle course, which consisted of rope ladders, a low-crawl course, and log obstacles.

With no rest time they moved out again to a rifle and pistol range, staying outside in the rain until after dark to qualify with their rifles in a night-fire event.

After a short dinner, the soldiers and NCOs headed back to the field to compete in a night land navigation course before getting a chance at any more sleep for the evening.

Sunday wrapped up with weapons familiarity tests before the award ceremony.

Brigadier Gen. David Enyeart, State Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley and retired Maj. Gen. Curtis Loop, president of the Columbia River Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, presented all competitors with awards and engraved pocket knives before announcing the winners of the competition.

Staff Sgt. Jesse Ginestar, of Charlie Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Cavalry, was named 2009 Oregon NCO of the year, and Spc. Donald Snyder, with Detachment 1, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry was named 2009 Oregon soldier of the year.

Ginestar, of Klamath Falls, is an infantry platoon sergeant, and Snyder, of Tri-Cities, Wash., is a medic.

He said his training and dedication to physical fitness were what helped him win the competition, which he added was fierce.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said Ginestar about being named NCO of the year after the ceremony. “This is a great honor.”

Snyder said he was happy to have even made it to the competition, but was also a little shocked that he won.

“This was a really tough competition,” said Snyder. “It was the best of the best out there and I look forward to heading to the regional level to represent Oregon.”

Ginestar is set to deploy with the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team later this year, so he won’t be able to continue to the regional competition, but says he plans to compete again next year.

Story by Sgt. Eric Rutherford,
Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office

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