Photo by Sgt. Chris Gardner
Utah National Guard Soldiers gather outside
Stadium prior to the Governor's Day parade Sept. 13.
BENNING, Ga. — Specialist Jeremy Whipple, of Utah’s Echo
Company, 1st Attack Helicopter Battalion, 211th Aviation
Regiment, was named the 2008 National Guard Soldier of
the Year during a competition held August 11-13 at Fort
along with twelve other finalists, had to qualify at the
unit, major command, state and regional levels to reach this
Competitors quickly found that the events were much more
physically demanding than what they had experienced at the
regional level. The grueling three-day competition was
designed to physically wear the competitors down before
testing them on common soldier skills.
Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos
Staff Sgt. Chandler Scovil, 151st Air Refueling
Wing, holds his unit's colors as Soldiers and Airmen
stand in formation during the Governor's Day parade.
competition began with a modified Army Physical Fitness
Test, followed by waterborne events, warrior tasks and
drills which included performing a functions check on an
M16A2 rifle, calling for artillery fire, emplacing and
recovering an M18A1 Claymore mine and evaluating and
treating a casualty. The contest also included events
that were new to the competitors, such as the stress
shoot, combative training and urban operations.
For Whipple, that preparation involved becoming
combat-lifesaver and Level-one combative qualified,
additional PT, foot marches, weapons training and long
nights of studying for the board.
prepared the same way as I did for the state and region
competitions,” he said.
“I prepared for a standard PT test, a 5-mile road march, a
standard rifle qualification, etc. I was a little concerned
when I heard that the WPFT (Warrior Physical Fitness Test),
which includes pull-ups and a 5-mile run instead of the
usual two miles, a 12-mile road march up the “Stairway to
Heaven”, a stress-shoot rifle qualification, and a Combat
Water Survival Test thrown in as well. I hadn’t prepared
for any of that.”
Photo by Staff Sgt. Emily Monson
Gov. Jon Huntsman, left, and Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet
render a salute during the playing of the National
entered the competition with a chronic hamstring injury, and
suffered a foot injury midway through the events, making his
win all the more remarkable.
have hurt my foot while overcompensating for my hamstring
and calf during training,” he said. “I lost a lot of points
in the road march and land-navigation course due to the
injury. What kept me going is that, frankly, I’m my own
worst critic. I more than made up for the lack of pressure
to win, by putting more pressure on myself to not quit, fail
or embarrass myself or my unit.”
losing points in events he considers are his greatest
throughout the majority of the competition, which in the end
established him as
credits the training his unit provided him and the support
of his family and sponsor for his success.
Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire
Members of the Utah Air National Guard pass
in review at Rice-Eccles Stadium Sept. 13.
“Whatever it took, they made it happen,” Whipple said.
“My battalion CSM, readiness NCO, and first sergeant
were all involved from the very beginning and made sure
the required paperwork was done, range time was
provided, weapons were found, combative instructors were
found and the list goes on.”
winners of the Soldier and NCO of the year were announced
during the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the
United States’ 37th annual conference.
were standing on the stage and the command sergeant major of
the Army National Guard announced my name, I was blown
away,” Whipple said. “I’m still not completely sure it’s
sunk in. What I do know is that it was absolutely humbling
to receive a standing ovation from a huge crowd comprised of
that caliber of Soldiers and Airmen.”
Whipple’s next test is to represent the Army Guard’s more
than 323,000 enlisted men and women this October at the
Department of the Army’s Soldier and NCO of the Year
competition held at Fort Lee, Va.