The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command named two soldiers from the Americas Region as its Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year: Spc. Cara D. Waldrop and Sgt. Timothy M. McPartlin, respectively, in a ceremony at its headquarters Aug. 26.
Waldrop is assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 310th Military Intelligence Battalion, 902d MI Group at Fort George G. Meade, Md. McPartlin is assigned to Company B, 202d MI Battalion, 513th MI Brigade.
"This is a special day to honor special people - absolutely the best soldiers," said Maj. Gen. Robert W. Noonan Jr., INSCOM commander. "Our officers think of really great things to do and our NCOs have to be the conscience of the Army and execute [their ideas].. If we donít have great noncommissioned officers, we donít have an Army," said Noonan.
In the final competition for Soldier of the Year, Waldrop edged out Spc. William J. Eaton (Pacific Region) and Spc. Adam S. Whitaker (Atlantic Region) for the top honor.
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald D. Wright, INSCOMís Command Sergeant Major, all the finalists represent the Armyís best and brightest soldiers. "These are the soldiers who will step up and lead the Army into the future," he said.
Waldrop, admitted to her fear of public speaking when she began the competition.
"When I first started doing Ďboards,í my voice would crack so bad people thought Iíd cry. I kept going to boards to get over my fear, then I found I enjoyed the competition," said Waldrop. "I wish all the soldiers could have won. They deserve it."
She credits her success to her Army mentors who still lead by setting the best example. "Chief Michael Lopez, Chief Brian List and Command Sgt. Maj. Homer Knightstep are my role models," she said. "I admire their assertiveness, professionalism and the way they treat all soldiers with dignity and respect."
In the NCO of the Year competition, McPartlin was named the best of the top three finalists. Sgt. Andrew D. Whiskeyman represented the Pacific Region and Sgt. Milford J. Hodgen represented the Atlantic Region.
McPartlinís speech on "Respect and Considerations of Others" was so inspiring that officials asked him to repeat it at the awards ceremony. INSCOMís top NCO holds a bachelorís degree in political science from Suffolk University in his home state of Massachusetts.
"I walked by the recruiting station every day on my way to college," McPartlin said. "One day, I just walked in," he said.
"I donít think winning this [competition] means youíre the best soldier in INSCOM," said McPartlin. "The best soldier is probably out there taking care of soldiers. Maybe that soldier didnít get the opportunity to compete ... just participating in this process makes you a better soldier."
The commandís Soldier and NCO of the Year received several awards, including certificates of achievement; plaques with the command sergeant majorís coin; a $1,000 savings bond; a certificate for a "Class A" uniform, a $100 gift certificate from the AAFES and the choice of their next duty assignment. Finalists from the Pacific and Atlantic Regions also received all awards except the last.
Shirley K. Startzman is a public affairs specialist with the Public Affairs Office, headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort Belvoir, Va.