8th Army staff sergeant named top NCO in Pacific
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Staff Sgt. Neal Lang III from 8th Army won the USARPAC Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competition.
Pfc. Jose Figueroa, from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command in Hawaii won the USARPAC Soldier of the Year competition.
“I’ve worked very hard and made sacrifices to get where I’m at,” said Lang earlier in the competition during a media event, “It would be a great honor to represent USARPAC.”
Figueroa offered advice during an earlier media event to soldiers considering entering the tough competition, “I would tell them to never give up and to train and practice, and it’ll pay off one day.”
The Warrior Challenge is a USARPAC competition designed to find the best NCO and Soldier in the Pacific. The competition consists of scored events to include a written examination, an appearance in front of a command sergeants major board, M4 carbine qualification, pre-combat inspections, a physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, combatives and a variety of demanding warrior tasks. At the end of the competition, points are tallied and the highest scoring NCO and Soldier are chosen as the NCO and Soldier of the Year for USARPAC.
“Soldiers that make it to this level of competition have already won several different competitions before getting here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Hunt III, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, command sergeant major.
“They are all winners and the best trained warriors in their command,” Hunt added of the elite competitors.
The two soldiers will move on to a Department of the Army competition held in October to determine the Army-wide NCO and Soldier of the Year winners. USARPAC competition planners looked closely at the Department of the Army contest to best prepare their contenders for the next level of competition.
“At this level, the events have to be designed to find the best out of the best,” said Hunt of the rigorous events, “The leaders and planners that put the competition together know how to do just that,” he added.
Lang is currently assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery, 210th Fires Brigade, Camp Casey, South Korea as a Launcher Section Chief.
He entered the United States Army National Guard in June of 1996 and attended One Station Unit Training for Cannon Crewmember occupation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After completing his first six year enlistment, he was honorably discharged from the National Guard. In January 2006, Lang enlisted into active duty.
Lang’s short terms goals are to be inducted into the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and complete his Associate’s Degree. Long term goals are to become the Sergeant Major of the Army and retire from the military with a record of good order and discipline among his trained Soldiers.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself during this competition,” Lang reflected during a media event. “Because I had to mentor Soldiers and they showed me how well I could communicate for all of us to be successful.”