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Pacific edition, Thursday, May 17, 2007

TORII STATION, Okinawa — 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) cleaned up at the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Warrior Challenge award ceremony Friday on Torii Station.

Sgt. Thomas Voltz, a support team member with Special Forces, was named the garrison’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Spc. Michael King, a chaplain’s assistant with the unit, nabbed Soldier of the Year.

They competed against six other top soldiers from throughout USAGJ, which includes mainland Japan and Okinawa, in the four-day event held on Torii Station and Camp Hansen. This year’s competitors were all stationed on Okinawa.

The challenge included a test of Army regulations, written essay, physical fitness, land navigation, rifle qualifications and other warrior skills.

Senior enlisted leaders were looking for soldiers capable in all skill categories, said Sgt. Maj. William Franklin, the president of the judging board and U.S. Army Garrison Japan command sergeant major.

“It’s easy for a soldier to be really good at some things: PT land navigation, buddy aid, but we wanted them to be well-rounded,” Franklin said. “We were looking for the best and we found it.”

Now that Voltz and King have been named best in the garrison, the two are preparing for the U.S. Army Pacific competition to be held in Hawaii in June.

The Warrior Challenge “has increased my confidence in my abilities and it’s showed me what I need to improve on,” said King after learning he had won.

Voltz said he also learned his weaknesses and admits the two have a lot of work ahead of them.

Franklin said they will have plenty of help shoring up their weak areas but added, “I think they will have no problem winning.”

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