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News | Nov. 6, 2023

USMEPCOM Military Members Compete in Boston

By Ashley Toomey USMEPCOM

The 2023 USMEPCOM Military Members of the Year (MMOY) competition brought nine finalists to compete in a weeklong event in Boston. After contending through multiple rounds of competitions, five winners were named.

The winners and their categories are:

Company grade officer Navy Lt. Robert C. Hock III (San Juan MEPS), originally from Niceville Florida
Battalion senior enlisted advisor: Navy Command Senior Chief Justin E. Boop (7th Battalion), originally from Litchfield Minnesota
MEPS senior enlisted advisor: Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Juan Osuna Jr. (Beckley MEPS), originally from El Centro, California
Senior noncommissioned officer: Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael R. Robida II (New York MEPS), originally from Upper Arlington, Ohio
Junior noncommissioned officer: Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Myron A. De Sa (Miami MEPS), Miami Florida

“The service members here reflect the values of Freedom’s Front Door beyond expectations, and they deserve all the recognition and praise,” said Army Col. Megan Stallings, USMEPCOM commander. “It’s a privilege and honor to be here in person to congratulate and celebrate the competitors here today.”

The journey for these contenders was a test of their mental and physical capabilities, with the competitions starting at the battalion level. As they continued to compete and progressively advance through the layers of command, the field narrowed until only the most resilient and dedicated group of ten individuals remained to face the final challenges.

As competitors prepared for the final events, USMEPCOM leadership shared final well wishes to each individual finalist.

"I'm excited for each of you and this week you will have the opportunity to showcase your physical strength, intelligence, knowledge, and leadership skills, and I have no doubt that you will excel in each aspect,” announced Army Command Sgt. Maj. Yveline Symonette, USMEPCOM senior enlisted advisor. “This competition is not only about winning, but also about discovering more about yourselves and pushing your limits.”

Upon arriving in Boston, the finalists’ schedule was nothing short of demanding. Their week started with a rigorous physical fitness test. They were then tasked with refining their communication and leadership skills. This was demonstrated through an engaging oral presentation, where they needed to convey their knowledge effectively. Each competitor was also required to craft a personal leadership plan, outlining their vision for leadership development.

Finally, their journey led them to a formal board interview, where their readiness and suitability for leadership roles were put to the test. The trials challenged the competitors on multiple fronts, preparing them for leadership roles.

“The most challenging part has been adapting and thinking on our feet. It’s hard when not knowing what the next day will look like,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Juan Osuna Jr., MEPS Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Year.

Competition judges Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Kenemore and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Rendon, Eastern and Western Sector senior enlisted advisors respectively, had to make difficult decisions to choose the 2023 MEPCOM Military Members of the Year.

“This is my first MMOY and I wasn’t expecting to see this level of competition,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Kenemore, Eastern Sector senior enlisted advisor. “It was very inspiring to see the incredible amount of individual competition and the incredible teamwork between all the finalists. The enthusiasm and teamwork you all showed inspired me.”

While the competition was fierce, the contenders supported each other and built connections and camaraderie through networking during their time in Boston. When not participating in events, competitors were able to share knowledge.

“I think the wonderful thing about the events that we’ve done is that we had a chance to meet and learn different aspects of all the different branches. The important thing is just knowing that we all have each other’s backs. It doesn’t matter what branch you are, we’re still brothers and sisters in arms and fighting the same fight to ensure our families are safe here at home,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Madrid, San Diego MEPS and Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year finalist, originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico.