Sgt. Tae Kim, left, was selected as the USAISR 2016 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Spc. David Watson was selected as the USAISR 2016 Soldier of the Year. Kim and Watson competed in a week-long competition March 7-10 at various location throughout Joint Base San Antonio. Photo by Steven Galvan
By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
05 APRIL 2016
After a tough week-long competition in which seven Soldiers and noncommissioned officers competed for the title of 2016 U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, the victorious warriors were announced March 10. The announcement was made during an awards ceremony at the San Antonio Military Medical Center auditorium hosted by USAISR Commander, Col. (Dr.) Michael Wirt and Sgt. Maj. James Devine.
“We are very proud of all of the competitors,” said Wirt addressing the competitors. “Throughout the week you faced and completed some challenging and demanding events to prove that you are the best of the best.”
“We started with seven competitors and only four of you made it through the week, but every one of you is a winner,” added Devine. “Unfortunately, we can only have one winner in each category.”
Sgt. Tae Kim earned the title of Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. He is a native of Seattle and is assigned to the Laboratory Support Services—Research Support Division as a medical laboratory specialist. Selected for Soldier of the Year was Spc. David Watson who hails from Fairfield, Montana, and is a histotechnician at the Anatomical Pathology Division.
“I feel extremely honored to have this title,” said Kim. “I will take the opportunity to push myself further and to do my best to contribute to the ISR and the Army.”
Kim enlisted in the Army in 2013 and has been assigned to the ISR for almost two years. He said he joined the Army because he wanted to serve his country and for personal and professional growth.
“I get to interact with people from different backgrounds,” Kim responded when asked what he likes best about his job. “I learn about them and their perspectives and work together with them as one team.”
Kim attributes teamwork to his success in the laboratory and during the competition.
“Oddly, my competitor, Staff Sgt. Vidal, helped me the most to prepare for the competition,” he said. “He helped me with the Army Warrior Tasks and the Tactical Combat Casualty Care lanes which I lacked knowledge on the most.”
Being physically prepared, motivated to win and a bit of luck are the factors that Kim said got him through the competition.
“It was challenging, and I had to keep reminding myself of why I was competing,” he said.
The one thing that Kim would like people to know about him is that he gets motivated by the good things that his peers do. He said that it makes him strive to be a better person and a Soldier. With that in mind, Kim said that his short-term goal is to become a certified medical technologist. In the long-term he’s aiming to serve in the Veteran’s Administration health system as a healthcare administrator.
For now Kim is preparing for the next competition and the challenge ahead of him and feels confident that he’ll do well by summing it up with this short phrase: “I do not like losing.”
Joining Kim at the competition at Fort Detrick, Maryland, will be Watson who joined the Institute 16 months ago and has been in the Army a little more than two-and-a-half years. He said he joined the Army for better opportunities and to be able to succeed in an organization worth being a part of—it’s also a family thing.
“Out of the eight kids that my parents have, six of us have served or are serving in the military,” said Watson.
When asked why he believed he was selected as the Soldier of the Year, Watson said: “Because I have shown in the last year that failure should be taken as an opportunity to succeed, not to give up.”
Watson said that he feels privileged to represent the ISR at the next level and looks forward to the competition.
“Being able to represent the ISR allows me to take pride in myself because it shows that a Soldier can receive recognition for doing the right things and trying harder to achieve goals,” he said.
His goal is to win the Soldier of the Year competition against other Soldiers who will be competing against him at the headquarters level, but he also has his sights set on other goals. He wants to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge, a master’s degree and ultimately get a commission as an Army officer. Until then, he’s going to move forward and gives this advice to anyone who would like to earn his spot.
“There’s always time to prepare for a competition: just make a list of priorities,” said Watson. “When you win it shows that age or background should not limit a person to compete.”
Kim and Watson will compete at the next level for the title of U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Soldier and NCO of the Year which will be held at Fort Detrick, March 28 to April 1.