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Williams, Perry Compete for USAMRDC Best Warrior NCO, Soldier of the Year

Williams out with injury, Perry Tops Soldiers

August 10, 2022
Spec. Colin Perry completes the obstacle course
Spec. Colin Perry completes the obstacle course portion of the competition. (Photo Credit: Dr. Steven Galvan)

The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) Non-commissioned Officer of the Year and Soldier of the Year award winners at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston were among a dozen competitors vying for the title of U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) Best Warrior NCO and Soldier of the Year during a competition last month. Sgt. Gerald Williams and Spc. Colin Perry, 2022 ISR NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, both Medical Laboratory Specialists (68K) competed in a grueling week-long competition alongside MRDC's best NCOs and Soldiers on March 1-4. The competition tested the competitor's soldiering skills, both physically and mentally.

Competing at the junior enlisted level, Perry, a native of Kailua, Hawaii, took the top MRDC honors.

"Winning was a great honor and I am proud to have been able to represent the ISR," said Perry. "It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun and I was able to sharpen a lot of my skills."

Reflecting back on the competition, Perry said it was very tough, both mentally and physically. He also said the competitors were very tough.

"There was a very high level of competition in all of the events," he said. "Overall, even though it was very tough I still had a lot of fun and I was able to make some great connections for the future."

During the third event of the first day, Williams, who hails from Columbus, Georgia, withdrew from the competition due to an injury.

"It was disappointing to get hurt during the third event of the MRDC competition," said Williams. "I feel like I had a legitimate chance of winning, so the injury was a humbling experience for me."

Said Williams, who will be assigned overseas later this year, "I may try to compete in the Regional Health Command Europe's competition as I PCS [permanent change of station] to Germany in a couple of months.

Before competing at the headquarters level, Williams and Perry participated against their peers at the ISR. Williams, who has been in the Army for seven years and at the ISR for two, said he prepared mentally and physically for the competition.

"I attended mock boards held by my seniors and peers," said Williams. "I also increased cardio and strength training for a couple of weeks, but gave myself enough days before the competition to rest and recover."

Williams feels that earning the ISR NCO of the Year demonstrates that he's always ready to compete when called upon and will do his best to set a good example for his subordinates.

"The competition was tough," he said. "I honestly did not expect to win the competition, so it still feels good, but I can't take credit for it alone. I appreciate all of my peers and seniors who took the time to prepare me."

Moving forward, Williams has set goals for himself. Two short-term goals of his are to improve his performance in the Army Combat Fitness Test and earn the Army's Expert Field Medical Badge. His long-term goals are to start a family and earn a Master's of Business Administration. His advice for anyone who would like to earn NCO of the year is simple.

"Stay ready and you don't have to get ready," Williams said. "Always try to maintain and add to your expertise."

Perry has been in the Army just a little over two years and at the ISR for a year. He said he joined the Army because he always looked up to his older brother who also served in the Army. He believes he earned the title of ISR Soldier of the Year because he was the best-rounded Soldier among his peers.

"It was tough but fun at the same time," he added. "I also think it shows that I am a good Soldier who is driven and wants to always better myself,"

As a seasoned outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting and hiking, Perry said he prepared for the competition by doing what comes naturally.

"I mostly just ran and rucked," said Perry. "Most of the other skills were things I was already confident in."

Perry's short- and long-term goals are to earn the Army Expert Field Medical Badge, get promoted to Sergeant, finish his degree and buy his first home. His advice to anyone who wants to earn the Soldier of the Year title are, "Stay driven, and never become complacent," he said. "Always focus on bettering yourself and a Soldier and as a person."

Perry said he was truly honored to have been able to represent the ISR at the MRDC level and thanks everyone who got him ready for the competition.

Said Perry, "I am very thankful to all of my NCOs who helped guide me to where I am now, and taught me all of the skills that I know."