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Gen. B.B. Bell, commander, U.S. Army Europe, speaks after awarding the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious achievement to Staff Sgt. James Rehl, 67th Forward Surgical Team, and Spc. Megan Pitts, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 14th Transportation Battalion.

Gen. B.B. Bell, commander, U.S. Army Europe, speaks after awarding the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious achievement to Staff Sgt. James Rehl, 67th Forward Surgical Team, and Spc. Megan Pitts, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 14th Transportation Battalion. (Courtesy of U.S. Army)

Two U.S. Army Europe soldiers proved they could take on whatever comes their way during a competition in Grafenwöhr and were named Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year last week.

Now, Staff Sgt. James P. Rehl, an operating room specialist with 67th Forward Surgical Team, in Giebelstadt, Germany, and Spc. Megan Pitts, an intelligence analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 14th Transportation Battalion, in Vicenza, Italy, will compete at the Department of the Army level in September.

The Grafenwöhr competition was held from July 12-15 and included evaluations on situational exercises, M-16 markmanship skills, day and night land navigation, a written exam, and an oral board.

Both troops received awards ranging from savings bonds to airline tickets, as well as the Army Commendation Medal from USAREUR.

The DA-level competition in September is typically a weeklong event beginning with an Army physical fitness test, and then continues on to a written exam and common task testing. Next, there are more situational exercises, including infantry skills, nuclear, biological and chemical testing, and a road march with full battle-rattle that leads the troops into a war-simulated zone where anything could be thrown their way.

Besides the hands-on testing, weapons qualification and land navigation posing challenges for the competing troops, there will also be a board appearance at the end of the DA competition.

Rehl said he’s going to study harder, train more, and practice smarter for the DA-level competition. A team of troops from his section is helping him prepare by setting up soldier tasks and watching his performance.

“We’ve put together this surgical team to observe me. So, whether the person is a private or a sergeant first class, they will ensure I’m doing the tasks to standard,” Rehl said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Pitts said she was also taking several weeks until the competition to become more proficient, especially in the tactical portion of the competition.

“I’ve been working on the physical aspect of it, but I need to start getting into the groove of the tactical portion,” she said. “I’m looking forward, it’ll be fun.”


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