Military News

Monday, July 06, 2015

JB MDL declares best service members during ceremony

by Lance Cpl. Stanley Moy and Senior Airman Tara A. Williamson
Marine Aircraft Group-49 and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

6/30/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- "Hard work. Dedication. Hard work. Dedication."

Marine Sgt. David Wilson, breathed heavily, flipping a tire during an obstacle course: "Hard work. Dedication," he shouted.

They are also two of the many qualities eight service members from the base recently showcased during the inaugural Joint Base Service Member of the Year Competition.

The two-day competition, May 14-15, featured seven events: an obstacle course designed by the Chiefs Mess, a multi-service physical fitness test, an urban orienteering course, a board appearance, a 100-point written exam, marksmanship qualification, and first aid administration.

June 30, the competitors found out who among them was truly the base's best service member of the year.

"With that many events, you know you're going to get the best service member to represent their service, and in the end, the joint base," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard H. Anderson, Army Support Activity-Dix. "I think that all of the senior enlisted leaders are proud, I think all the services are proud, of what they're doing and what they're representing."

Holding the best score in the junior-enlisted category in six events - obstacle course, fitness test, board, written exam, marksmanship, and first aid - the 2015 junior enlisted Joint Base Service Member of the Year is Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Albert Martino, Marine Aircraft Group 49.

Winning by eight points in a close competition among NCOs and earning the highest physical fitness score, second highest score on urban orienteering and written exam, the 2015 senior enlisted Joint Base Service Member of the Year is Army Reserve Sgt. Darius Foster, a reservist with the 78th Training Division.

Both service members had less than two weeks to prepare for what would turn out to be more than they had expected.

"The most difficult physically was the Chiefs Mess obstacle course, definitely," said Martino, an Oxford, Pennsylvania native. "I got sick after it and it was hands down one of the toughest things I've ever had to do physically. It was 8 minutes of hell."

"The board is always nerve-wracking, you never know what's going to be thrown at you," Forster said, hailing from Rahway, New Jersey. He added that he had to study every day to brush up on his military knowledge.

Martino said he gained a lot of knowledge from studying for the test; rank structure, customs and courtesies, and going through the board process.

Both winners said that what got them through the challenging competition was the motivation coming from the other service members.

"You gain everything from the different services learning how they interact and how they work, and of course gaining more friends," Foster said.

"I believe that they're starting to build a comradery between one another - you can see they're patting each other on the back," said Anderson. "They're competitors against each other, but at the same time they respect each other and what they're doing."

Throughout the friendly rivalry all of the services supported each other; they all had each other's backs.

"More than anything I gained an appreciation for the other services," Martino said. "You tend to think your service is the best at anything, when you go up against other services in competition you get a feel for how strong they are and it brings you a little bit closer, as well."

"I enjoyed every bit of this competition," Foster added. "It was tiring, but it was worth the pain. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have taken part and would definitely recommend this for anybody who might be interested.

"This was amazing, I've never done anything like it," he continued. "Getting to meet all the other competitors and services and learn about everyone and be in that friendly rivalry environment was something I really enjoyed. I would love to do it again but I'd love to have another Marine be able to compete as well."

Martino thanked all the Marines in MAG-49 who supported him through the competition and pushed him to be a better Marine and Foster commended the 78th TD for all the support before and during the two-day event.

"This is a great competition, we're going to continue to make it better, probably add more events, and it will become something all of our service members here on the joint base look forward to," said Anderson.

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