Perry, Lorber Claim USAMRDC Soldier, NCO of the Year Titles
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command announced the winners of the command's annual Soldier and Non-commissioned Officer of the Year competition during a ceremony at USAMRDC's U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas, on March 4. Spc. Colin Perry of USAISR was named USAMRDC Soldier of the Year, while Staff Sgt. Joshua Lorber, an Operations NCO at USAMRDC headquarters, was named NCO of the Year.
"I couldn't be more proud of what I saw and witnessed from each of you out there as you were going through those events," said Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, in remarks during the awards ceremony. "I could see how tough it was, and I saw no quit from any of you."
McQueen and USAMRDC Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Laragione presented both Perry and Lorber with their awards following a demanding week-long event designed to test intangible qualities like perseverance, persistence and resilience. Nearly a dozen Soldiers from across the command competed in the event, which included, among other testing modules, a written exam, oral boards, the Army Combat Fitness Test and the completion of several weapons and medical lanes intended to gauge both physical and technical capabilities under pressure.
"I just want to say thanks to everyone, to the whole team for allowing me to compete," said Lorber, a Texas native, following the ceremony. "I'm super excited to get the award; though to be honest I didn't know if I was going to win – the competition was fierce."
"I would like to thank all of my training officers for getting me here in the first place," said Perry. "I'd also like to thank everyone who's helped and guided me to where I am now."
Notable among the battery of tests included in the event was an exercise in which the participants were tasked with rescuing a hostage from a specific location, delivering medical care to that hostage and then successfully extracting that hostage from said location. Additional so-called "mystery" events – which were kept secret from the competitors prior to the competition – involved everything from intricate land navigation exercises to recovering and then assembling the components of a specific weapon before ultimately checking that weapon for proper function. These tasks were in addition to a myriad of shooting lanes and lengthy ruck marches; the latter often held in the middle of the night.
"It was grueling," said Lorber of the event. "The sleep deprivation aspect of everything was probably the most challenging part."
In his address during the awards ceremony, McQueen referred to all participants as "first-class competitors," and implored each to use the event as a means to reflect on what specific steps they need to take in order to become a better Soldier or a better NCO; chiefly focusing on fitness, technical training and classwork.
"Take the things you learn today and continue to teach yourself, continue to train yourself, continue to push yourself," said McQueen. "You need to ask yourself what you're doing to ensure the Soldiers that you are responsible for – or, the ones that you will be responsible for in the future – will be prepared in a deployed environment."