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Two Soldiers named top in the Army Guard

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., (8/14/09) -- The Army National Guard's Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2009 were announced yesterday at the 38th annual conference of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. 

Spc. Guy Mellor, from Utah's B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Regiment was named Soldier of the Year and Sgt. Ryan Brubaker, from Montana's B Company, 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment, took honors as the NCO of the Year.

It is the second year in a row that a Montana Soldier has been named the Army Guard's NCO of the Year. Last year, after winning the Army Guard's competition, Montana's Staff Sgt. Michael Noyce Merino went on to win the Department of the Army competition.

For Brubaker, that put added pressure on him as he went through this year's competition.

“I put it on myself because I want to represent Montana…and the entire National Guard, possibly, at the next event,” he said. “I want to represent them as best I can so I do put a little more pressure on myself.”

For both Soldiers, winning the top honors means they are among the best the Guard has to offer.

“These Soldiers are the best of the best from their states, their regions and of the Guard,” Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Angry, acting sergeant major of the Army Guard said during the competition. “What (they've done) here is nothing but commitment and courage. I've been nothing but impressed.”

The competition, held at the Army Guard's Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning, Ga., earlier this month, was a grueling three-day event that pushed competitors to their physical and mental limits with ruck marches, written tests, marksmanship events and other elements all done back-to-back with few breaks in between all on an average of three hours sleep a night.

There were times when many in the competition didn't know if they'd make it through.

“I'm pretty drained right now,” said Mellor, about halfway through the competition. “I'm feeling O.K., but I'm just really drained right now. It's going to be hard to get up, but I'm ready.”  

For Brubaker, succeeding in the competition came by focusing on one event at a time.

 “So, if I'm doing weapons that's all I'm going to concentrate on,” he said. “I'm not going to focus on how I messed up on the IV stick. I'm just going to concentrate on one task at a time and make it through.”
Both Soldiers spent many hours getting ready to compete. “It's been an extremely tough road to get here,” said Brubaker. “There has been a lot of time where I have just had to sit down and study or go and do PT at all hours of the morning.”

For Brubaker and Mellor the road to being named the best of the best in the Army Guard started with unit level competitions. From there they went through other competitions to get to the state level, then regionally and finally the Army Guard Competition at Fort Benning.

And those previous competitions have provided part of the determination to make it to the next level.

“There have been some outstanding competitors I've gone against in previous competitions,” said Brubaker. “I think they have personally given me the drive to want to really try as hard as I can and do my best.”

But preparing for the event, and winning each successive competition, wasn't something done alone.

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