Toure, Carrington Score Top Marks, Awards
Officials from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command announced Pfc. Ibrahim Toure and Sgt. 1st Class Dalton Carrington as winners of the 2021 "USAMRDC Soldier of the Year" and 2021 "USAMRDC NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) of the Year" awards, respectively, during a ceremony at Fort Detrick on March 26.
For both men, the honor serves as a highlight of a year otherwise defined by the Command's overall response and continued commitment to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
"This is a great honor," said Toure, who credits his family with teaching him the work ethic required to compete for the award. "My parents taught me to always be at the very top of everything I do."
"All the preparation paid off, and I was just very happy," said Carrington, a medical lab technician by trade who's currently stationed at the USAMRDC the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "Everybody at the Institute, every time I walk by, they always say congratulations."
The small, in-person ceremony served as a capstone to the grueling competition and review process, which consisted of the completion of the Army Combat Fitness Test, a twelve-mile ruck march, a combat testing lane, and a written exam, among other efforts.
For Toure, the award represents another significant accomplishment — among many — since enlisting in the Army in 2019 following his emigration to the U.S. from the Ivory Coast. He is currently posted at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where he works in the Division of Medicine, Training, and Education. Just a few months after arriving at USAMRIID in May of 2020, he won the USAMRIID "Soldier of the Year" award, which put him in the running for the overall Command award.
"Coming to this country changed my life," said Toure following the receipt of his initial award in October, "so joining the Army [was] a way for me to pay back this country."
As for Carrington, he was kept in the dark about his "USAMRDC NCO of the Year" victory until he actually arrived at USAMRDC headquarters. Prior to the ceremony, WRAIR Command Sergeant Major Rodmond Churchill told Carrington that USAMRDC leadership wanted both the award winner and the second-place entrant to appear at the event together, with the winner to be announced on-site. The truth behind the good-natured setup was revealed once he arrived on post, however.
"I didn't know if I'd won or if I was runner up — and then when I got there it was just me and Pfc. Toure," said Carrington, a nine-year Army veteran who currently serves as the Veterinary Services Program NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) at WRAIR. "I was just extremely happy to win it."
Both men are scheduled to participate in the Army Futures Command "Best Warrior Competition" at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, in late April.