NCO: 'I'm always trying to be among the best'
Sgt. Delroy Barnett doesn’t know what it’s like to lose.
“Not yet,” he said, laughing.
Since arriving in Germany more than two years ago, Barnett, a member of the 123rd Main Support Battalion in Dexheim, Germany, has won every “best of” competition he’s been in.
His first board, a soldier of the month board for his company, was no sweat. Then he grabbed soldier of the quarter honors for both his company and battalion. He went on to win soldier of the year for his battalion before picking up his sergeant stripes earlier this year.
“I’m always trying to be among the best, whatever I have to do to make it,” Barnett, a combat medic, said.
As a new noncommissioned officer, he snatched the title of 1st Armored Division’s noncommissioned officer of the year July 15, and immediately began training for the U.S. Army Europe competition that began Aug. 6.
He won that, too.
Those who know him weren’t surprised.
“It takes a lot of drive to want to do those things, and he has that drive,” said Staff Sgt. Albert Patton, who has watched Barnett win every 1st Armored Division “Iron Warrior” competition since March 2004.
At 37, Barnett isn’t some young buck out to prove himself. Long before enlisting in the U.S. Army in February 2003, he served six years as an infantryman in the Army in his native Jamaica. There, with a focus on jungle warfare, he regularly trained with U.S. and British special forces, he said.
“The recruits are normally treated in a much harsher way than they are in the United States Army,” Barnett said.
Barnett never shied away from the physical aspects of military life. For him, cranking out 105 pushups in two minutes for a physical fitness test is routine, not a cause for celebration. Even before Barnett started doing the competitions, he was out on his own running through the vineyards and ruck marching, Patton said.
While he’s done plenty on his own to win, Barnett gives a lot of the credit for his success to his leadership.
“I’ve just been blessed, especially in the 123rd. We have a great group of NCOs,” Barnett said. When he first arrived at the unit, “They sat me down, they talked to me, they told me what I have to do to succeed.”
So far, he’s done just that.
“He’s really down to earth about it,” said Spc. Matthew Bellamy, one of Barnett’s soldiers.
Bellamy knew Barnett before his competition successes. “He hasn’t really changed all that much, he’s just got more rank,” Bellamy said.
As soon as he won U.S. Army Europe noncommissioned officer of the year, Barnett started training five days a week for the all-Army competition in October. His sergeant major, Charles Penn, developed a training schedule to help Barnett along the way.
“My battalion, they want it too,” Barnett said.
“If he really wants it, that prestigious position to be all-Army, he’ll go get it,” Patton said. “That’s what I believe.”