III Corps, Fort Hood and organizations from the surrounding communities recognized two Soldiers as the top Soldier and noncommissioned officer in the corps Aug. 29 at the Phantom Warrior Center.
Spc. David Chambers and Staff Sgt. Michael Nixon were honored as the III Corps Soldier of the Year and III Corps NCO of the Year, respectively, during a competition in July. The competition was tough, with Chambers and Nixon squaring off against Soldiers and NCOs representing Fort Bliss; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Riley, Kansas.
“This is about recognizing two Soldiers that show the expertise of our craft over numerous days and numerous events,” Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, said. “They are representative of where we’re headed as an Army.”
Along with the III Corps command team, 24 local and national organizations made contributions to the two Soldiers, presenting backpacks, gift cards and even a new car. The Association of the United States Army – Central Texas donated a year-long lease on a new vehicle. Larry Phelps, president of AUSA – Central Texas, said the contribution is something they do every year and is the key component of the organization’s Soldier Support Program.
“The outpouring for our top Soldiers is unlike any other competition in the United States Army,” Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, III Corps and Fort Hood senior enlisted advisor, said. “It is impressive.”
The Army’s Best Warrior competition was created 18 years ago as a way to identify the best overall Soldier – not just one who may be physically fit, not just one who may do well on the board – but the overall best. The rigorous competition tests a Soldier’s knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, warrior tasks and battle drills.
“We get very little sleep,” Chambers said about the competition. “It’s very physically strenuous and mentally draining, so in order to push yourself and keep going – it takes a lot of grit.”
Chambers and Nixon advanced to the United States Army Forces Command competition, which was held Aug. 16-22 at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Nixon, 226th Military Police Detachment, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Brigade, placed third overall in the NCO competition. Chambers, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, beat out the other lower enlisted competitors, being named the FORSCOM Soldier of the Year.
Chambers said he was shocked by the win because they go through the competition completely blind – they are never told how well they did on each event. He said he felt like everyone did well, so it could have been anyone who won.
“Individually, it’s a great accomplishment, but the best part is to represent 3rd CR,” Chambers said.
Chambers’ first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Aleksandar Jovanoski, said even though Chambers has only been in the Army for a year, he motivates him to excel at everything he does, while also being a positive influence on the other troops.
“He’s been a shining motivation for the troopers,” Jovanoski said. “He’s motivating a lot of Soldiers to strive to better themselves.”
Still a young Soldier, Chambers joined the Army in July 2018 as an infantryman. He said he believes his military occupational specialty has helped him in the competition, but he has also received a lot of help from his unit, which would task him out to various units for training in specific areas.
As he begins preparation for the Army-wide competition, Chambers said he hopes to inspire other Soldiers to push themselves, because it will only make the unit better overall.
Chambers will represent the Brave Rifles, Fort Hood, III Corps and FORSCOM at the Army-wide Best Warrior competition, Oct. 6-11, at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, and at the Pentagon.
“I fully expect Chambers to win All-Army,” Nixon said.