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Minnesota National Guard
257th MPs earn both Soldier and NCO of the Year

After four long and highly competitive days at Camp Ripley, the Minnesota National Guard's Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year were announce by Command Sgt Maj Edward "Scott" Mills, Minnesota National Guard State Command Sgt Maj

The 2010 Soldier of the Year is Spc Geoffrey Latsch, 257 Military Police Company, a native of Big Lake, Minn

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The 2010 NCO of the Year is Sgt Jeremy Swanson, 257 Military Police Company, a native of Buffalo, Minn

"The competition was very close and it all came down the appearance board," said Mills  "All of these competitors gave it their all, I am proud of each and every one of them"

On Thursday nine competitors arrived at Camp Ripley, Minn all determined to claim the title of Minnesota National Guard Soldier or NCO of the Year  Before them was four very long days of competition  Each day brought with it a new set of challenges 

Day one started early with the Soldiers completed an Army Physical Fitness Test, a written essay, weapon qualification, and a combatatives class

Day two the Soldiers competed in a combatatives tournament, then moved out to the obstacle course, completed the day land navigation course, tested their knowledge of warrior tasks and closed out the day with a night land navigation course

Day three the Soldiers experienced what most would agree was the event they will remember the most over the next few days  Not because it was the most enjoyable but because it brought with it the most pain  The Soldier packed their ruck sacks with 30 pounds of equipment and went for a twelve mile road march  This event was followed by a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight down to St John's University, near St Cloud, Minn  Here the competitors had to complete the Combat Water Survival Test  Then it was another flight back to Camp Ripley so they could study with their sponsors for the appearance board the next morning

Day four the Soldiers put on their Class A uniform and tested their minds in front of the some of the highest ranking Noncommissioned Officers in the Minnesota National Guard  The appearance board evaluated the competitor on general Soldier knowledge as well as the appearance of their uniform

The competition finished off with celebration as The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito spoke to them at the awards banquet where the winners were announced

"These young people represent the future of our organization and I am very pleased with what I see," said Shellito

The winners of this competition will go on the represent Minnesota at the regional competition at Ft McCoy, Wis

"When people ask me about the Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard it is Soldiers just like these that I tell them about because I believe that we have the greatest Soldiers around," said Mills

Story and photos by 1st Lt Kenneth Toole
Camp Ripley Public Affairs
April 18, 2010

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