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Sgt. Jeremy Kamphuis, a military police officer with the 127th MP Company in Hanau, Germany, has been named the Army NCO of the Year.
Sgt. Jeremy Kamphuis, a military police officer with the 127th MP Company in Hanau, Germany, has been named the Army NCO of the Year. (Nancy Montgomery / S&S)

Sgt. Jeremy Kamphuis used to be just a military policeman. Now he’s at the disposal of the sergeant major of the Army.

“I was surprised and very honored,” said Kamphuis, who last week was named the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Kamphuis, of the Hanau, Germany-based 127th Military Police Company, became best of the best by outscoring nine other NCOs from the Army’s major commands at a competition at Fort Lee, Va.

As NCO of the year, Kamphuis said he would now do whatever is asked — presentations, tours — by Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston, the Army’s highest-ranking NCO.

Kamphuis was picked for the competition shortly after returning in April from a one-year deployment in Baghdad.

“I’d never heard of the competition,” said the 23-year-old from Grand Rapids, Mich. “As far as I was concerned, it was nothing more than a board appearance. I quickly found out it entailed a lot of hands-on training.”

Kamphuis won NCO competitions at the brigade, V Corps and U.S. Army Europe levels to advance.

At Fort Lee, finalists were given the Army physical fitness test of push-ups, sit-ups and running, took a 50-question timed quiz, competed in M-16 shooting, appeared before a military board that grilled them on soldiering, and had to write an essay on the topic of the competitor’s choice.

“It was called ‘The Be, Know and Do of Leadership,’” Kamphuis said of his essay. “It’s something you have to live on a day-to-day basis to really perform well as a sergeant and as a leader.

“The key is to lead from the front. Everything I would expect my soldiers to do is something I’ve done or am willing to do in front of them to show them how to do it.”

Kamphuis said he sacrificed personal time and put in the extra work of training his body and studying Army regulations. But the contests, he said, included some surprises.

“You never know if they’re going to throw something at you. An obstacle course, weapons disassembly in the dark,” Kamphuis said. “You have to be proficient at everything.”

The final competition at Fort Lee included day and night land navigation.

In Baghdad, Kamphuis was stationed at Forward Operating Base Falcon. His unit was hit by roadside bombs and was involved in firefights, but Kamphuis wasn’t deterred, according to Master Sgt. Ramon Domenech.

Domenech said Kamphuis is smart and mature for a young man and does a good job managing his soldiers.

“He’s a truly professional noncommissioned officer,” Domenech said. “A true warrior and very deserving individual. He put his heart and soul and body into this.”

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