After a week-long competition during which nine noncommissioned officers and nine Soldiers vied for the title of U.S. Army Forces Command Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, a  Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. field artillery NCO and a Fort Bragg airborne infantryman earned the distinction as FORSCOM’s finest.

Sgt. Dariusz Krzywonos, a field artillery surveyor/meteorological supervisor, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division, is the 2012 FORSCOM NCO of the Year. He was the I Corps representative.

Spc. Jeremy Shivick, an airborne infantryman with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, is the 2012 FORSCOM Soldier of the Year. Shivick represented the XVIII Airborne Corps.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Seelig, a PATRIOT missile fire control supervisor, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla., is the NCO of the Year runner-up.

Spc. Brian Haworth, an infantryman with Company D, 1st Battalion, 200th Infantry, Task Force Sinai, Egypt, is the Soldier of the Year runner-up.

The long days of competition tested each Soldier’s mettle as they demonstrated physical and mental conditioning, while exhibiting tactical leadership and Soldier knowledge and skills.

To compete at the FORSCOM level, each Soldier had to earn the right by training and preparing for their success in a series of unit-level competitions beginning at their respective battalions, continuing through brigade, division and corps-level.

“This event is the culmination of a lot of training, and I take pride in knowing that my unit fully supports my military endeavors,” said Spc. Andrew C. Lester, a Soldier with 520th Aerial Support Company, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade, 1st Corps.

During the competition, the Soldiers were evaluated in the Army Physical Fitness Test, M4 rifle qualification, warrior tasks and battle drills, day and night orienteering, a written exam and essay, and a “mystery” event.

The mystery event was “unaided” night rifle marksmanship qualification. During this event, the competitors were not allowed to use optics.

“The competition challenged me mentally,” said Shivick, who at 21 was the youngest Soldier in this year’s event. “Another part of the competition that challenged me was the rifle marksmanship qualification because I had to compensate for the wind.”

Soldiers participating in the competition not only displayed their skills, but said they learned valuable lessons that they hope to share with their fellow team members at home station.

The oldest Soldier in the competition, 43 year-old Krzywonos, plans to share his experience.

“This competition gave me valuable knowledge that I will take back to the Soldiers in my unit and help better their military careers,” said Krzywonos. “I will show them the steps I took to get to this level and how to prepare.

“Winning this event is secondary; I came here to represent the leadership and Soldiers who fully put their trust and confidence in me,” he continued. “The Army will benefit from whoever wins this competition.”

The winners of the competition received their awards at a ceremony held at the Fort Bragg Club, July 12. Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin J. Bohn, FORSCOM command sergeant major and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Carl E. Christian, a former FORSCOM command sergeant major, presented this year’s awards.

Maj. Gen. John R. O’Connor, FORSCOM deputy chief of staff, G-4 (Logisitics), presented Meritorious Service Medals to the competition winners and Army Commendation Medals to the other competitors.

At the close of the awards banquet, Bohn extolled the individual achievements of each competitor and encouraged them to continue to challenge themselves.

“Soldiers, be proud of what you have accomplished and continue to pursue excellence in all that you do,” said Bohn.