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A transportation specialist from Fort Bliss and a military police investigations supervisor from U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern will represent the U.S. Army Installation Management Command at the Army's Best Warrior competition later this year.

Spc Kevin M. Mulloy, representing the IMCOM Central Region, and Staff Sgt. Robert C. Donovan, representing the Europe Region, were named IMCOM Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year April 26 after a five-day competition that tested the skills of warriors from each of IMCOM's four regions.

The Soldiers and NCOs competed in a series of tests – beginning with a physical fitness test and running the gamut from basic Soldier skills to night-land navigation.

“Thank you for putting together such an elite competition,” Donovan told leadership as he accepted the recognition. “I can assure you that I added a great number of tools to my kitbag.”

“A lot of people ask me, Why do you keep doing these competitions? Why is a staff sergeant willing to go to boards, even though, technically, I don't have to go to boards anymore?” The answer, according to Donovan, is to become a better leader by becoming a better Soldier. “I want to do everything … I want to push myself to the limits. To be an NCO, you have to lead from the front.”

Mulloy credited his faith and Family for many of his successes, but also thanked other participants in the competition. “Your motivation and drive pushed me harder and harder to continue on,” he said.

He recalled words from CSM Donald Felt, Central Region command sergeant major: “Mulloy, never quit.” And then lo, and behold, [IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Earl] Rice said the exact same thing. So to both of these command sergeants major, thank you for your words. Two words. Never quit. It really hit me.”

The goal of the competition was to find the best Soldiers in IMCOM to be those representatives, Rice said. But the competition also serves as an awesome leader development tool to strengthen our NCO Corps and protect the future of our Army by developing competent and confident NCOs, he added.

“When they push themselves to their limits [in a competition like this one], they know how to push their Soldiers beyond what they think they can do,” Rice said.

These Soldiers were in it to win, Rice added. They represent the Army best by representing the best in themselves.

“The attitude of these Soldiers who came here to compete was all about the winning spirit,” Rice said. “You knew they believed in the warrior ethos and Army values just by the way they carried themselves.”

Donovan, the IMCOM Europe NCO of the Year, agreed.

“What I want to get out of this competition is simply to get some good training, push myself to the limits, hopefully come out on top, and continue as the Department of the Army NCO of the Year, but in the meantime lead from the front and have my Soldiers back in the rear be proud of what I do,” he said.

Donovan stood out for his motivation and attitude, Rice said. “He is an NCO that carries himself with confidence. Young Soldiers could look at him and say, “I would follow this noncommissioned officer.

“He pushed himself to try and work harder and better than he thought he could. In every way he exceeded the standard,” Rice added.

Mulloy, the Central Region Soldier of the Year, also came to the competition with the goal of banking skills for the future.

“What I really hope to get out of this is just the training tools to lead the Soldiers for whenever I step into the position of NCO,” he said before the competition.

Mulloy already shows leadership mettle, according to Rice. “He's a team motivator. He's not just here focusing on himself. That young Soldier is excited. He's excited about life. And when his excitement turns into inspiration, it's infectious. It motivates others around him,” he said.

“It's about learning, about being better Soldiers,” said Army Environmental Command Command Sgt. Maj. Earlene Lavender, noncommissioned officer in charge of the event. “They all recognize this as an opportunity to learn and grow, and they all want the very best representing the command at the Army level,” Lavender said.

In opening remarks Sunday morning, Rice spoke to the competitors about the honor of making it through their garrison- and regional-level competitions to the IMCOM level, and reminded them that it's not just about winning, it's about becoming better Soldiers.

Midway through the competition, runner-up Pfc. Jason Durski, from IMCOM Pacific, echoed Rice's comments after completing a two-hour written exam.

“I'm doing my best, and if I come out on top, great,” he said. “If I don't, I'll take it as a training and learning experience.”

Sgt. Ryan Mason, from IMCOM Atlantic, took that sentiment a step further.

“We're here to represent ourselves, our regions, and our garrisons,” Mason said, “but it's also about what we can provide to our Soldiers when we get back”.

“In the end we're still a team,” he said. “Maybe not the same installation or region, but the same Army. It's our duty to pass on what we know to others.”

A sponsor accompanied each Soldier and NCO from his or her region, and the CSM from each region was on hand to observe and assist–and take part by sitting on a board during the competition.

In the evenings, the competitors and mentors attended a NCO professional development session on the profession of arms presented by their region command sergeant major.

“This year, we built in time for training into the competition schedule,”

Lavender said.

“When we're so busy serving and supporting war fighters, when do we get our training in?” she asked. “So this week we train them up, not just for this competition, but to mentor them and make them better Soldiers.”

The experience was “challenging, inspirational and educational,” said SGT Randy Roscoe of Fort Huachuca, Central Region representative and the runner-up IMCOM NCO of the Year. “You can read a book or training manual all day long, but if you don't apply where you can be evaluated–and pushed– you never improve.”

Donovan was grateful for that training throughout the week.

“This event humbled me,” he said. “And made me realize how much more there still is to learn. If I don't know these warrior tasks, my Soldiers won't, either”.

“The physical stuff, I can do all day,” he said. “But I learned more in one profession of arms class here-about balancing being a Soldier and a Family man-than ever before. If nothing else, that's something I'll remember always, I'll take that with me wherever I go.”