For the second consecutive year, two Panther Brigade Soldiers from the “All-American” Division came out on top as the 2013 XVIII Airborne Corps Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.

Staff Sgt. Cory Schmidt and Spc. Lawrence Anderson, both representing 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were recognized as the XVIII Abn. Corps Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, April 25, at McKellar’s Lodge.

Sixteen noncommissioned officers and Soldiers from across XVIII Abn. Corps competed in the NCOY/SOY competition at Fort Bragg, April 22 through 24.

“This competition signifies the culmination of each competitor’s journey through their competitions starting from company to battalion to brigade to the corps level,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Millholland, noncommissioned officer in charge of the NCOY/SOY competition. “It’s our job here to select the most outstanding Soldier and NCO to represent the XVIII Airborne Corps at the United States Army Forces Command competition.”

Challenges throughout the competition included an Army Physical Fitness Test, leading a fire team on a patrol, performing first aid to a bleeding casualty, M4 rifle qualification, land navigation and a sergeants major board.

“At this level, it signifies the best of the best we have here at XVIII Airborne Corps,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto, XVIII Abn. Corps command sergeant major. “We’re bringing the best Soldier and NCO from each of the organizations to compete.”

Throughout the rigorous three-day event, the 16 competitors were tested on their physical fitness, critical decision-making as well as their drive and determination.

“This is a culmination of all the fundamental tasks that make up who we are as Soldiers and what makes the enlisted Soldiers and noncommissioned officers corps the backbone of the Army,” said Millholland. “We make it happen and lead by example.”

For Anderson, a dental specialist with Company C, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., competing at this level was no easy task.

Anderson emphasized that one must stay physically fit and continue to study.

“Go through the whole warrior task book, study all the regulations the best you can and above all, be proactive. If you can do that, you’ll win,” he said.

Although all 16 competitors were selected as the best out of their respective unit, only one NCO and Soldier could win the Corps level competition.

“I feel a little bit overwhelmed. It’s a great honor to be representing the XVIII Airborne Corps,” said Schmidt when he found out he had won.

Schmidt, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., said that with the Panther Brigade winning the competition for the second year in a row, both he and Anderson have some big shoes to fill.

“This isn’t the first year we’ve had a Soldier and trooper together winning the competition, so we have a lot ahead of us and we’ll make sure we won’t let them down,” he said.

In the end, the competitors said they felt accomplished and relieved that it was finally over, regardless of their performance.

“It’s a great honor to represent my unit and the 10th Mountain Division,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Selvon, a military police officer representing 10th Sustainment Brigade from Fort Drum, N.Y. “It feels awesome because I’m setting the example of leading from the front. I can go back regardless of the competition and set the example for Soldiers and give them something additional for them to look up to.”

Up next, Schmidt and Anderson will move on to compete in the FORSCOM competition, where they will once again be tested to see if they will advance to the final Department of the Army level, with prospects of becoming the Army’s 2013 Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year.