FORT EUSTIS, Va. — Fort Benning’s top warriors came up big again last week at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command level.
Staff Sgt. Raymond Santiago and Spc. Blaise Corbin are the 2011 TRADOC Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year. Both Soldiers are from the 4th Ranger Training Battalion. They represented the Combined Arms Center in the annual event.
“It’s been a tough competition both mentally and physically. All NCOs were great and represented their commands well, so I knew whoever won the competition would reach victory by a slight margin,” said Santiago, a Ranger School instructor. “When they announced my name as the winner, I didn’t know what to do. It was very rewarding and I was glad to have my family there to support me.”
The four-day competition started Aug. 14 at Fort A.P. Hill. It was a physical and mental grind that pushed all competitors to their limit with tasks such as the physical fitness test, a weapons qualifications course, obstacle course, land navigation and other challenging warrior tasks.
Their Army knowledge was tested with written essays and rapid-fire questioning from a four-member senior NCO Board.
Corbin said he also knew this year’s Soldier of the Year winner would only be separated by a slim margin of points.
“I was very nervous because I knew it would be a close race. We all were competitive with one another through the whole competition,” he said. “I was sitting there with my wife and was relieved because I knew she wanted me to win as well as her parents, my parents, and Santiago’s family.”
Santiago and Corbin will spend some time with their families but said they’d be ready to train for the Army’s Best Warrior Competition, set for Oct. 2-8 at Fort Lee, Va.
“Once I’m done with my leave, I’ll be ready to get back to training and prepare for the next board,” Corbin said.
At 4th RTB, Corbin serves on a unit that plays an opposition force in support of D Company’s Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Leadership Course.
“After I celebrate with my family, my focus will be on training and preparing for the Army’s Best Warrior Competition,” Santiago said. “Corbin and I will be prepared to represent TRADOC at the Best Warrior Competition.”
In October at Fort Lee, Santiago and Corbin will compete against 22 other top NCOs and Soldiers from throughout the Army.