Paralegal Soldiers compete for titles of U.S. Army Europe’s best

Oct. 23, 2012

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

U.S. Army Europe photo.
HEIDELBERG, Germany – A Soldier receives instructions before engaging targets on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 during the U.S. Army Europe 2012 Best Paralegal Competition at the Oftersheim Rod and Gun Club Oct. 19. The Soldier is participating in a competition to determine the best paralegal Noncommissioned Officer and Junior Soldier from units across Europe in an event that tests both their Soldiers skills and their job specific skills. (U.S. Army Europe photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado)

HEIDELBERG, Germany – Paralegal specialists from across U.S. Army Europe came together here Oct. 19 to prove their skills at USAREUR’s 2012 Best Paralegal Competition.

But if you think the event is all about researching case law or preparing legal documents, think again. This is a soldiering challenge.

The event started at 6 a.m. when the competitors arrived at Patrick Henry Village Elementary School here for an Army Physical Fitness Test.

Following the APFT, this year’s 13 competitors moved on to an 8-mile rucksack march to the USAREUR firing ranges at the U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wuerttemberg Rod and Gun Club in Oftersheim, Germany. There they fired a weapons qualification test on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 marksmanship simulator and completed a warrior task skills assessment that included several stations that tested the paralegals on their land navigation, first aid and weapons abilities.

The competition gives Soldiers a chance to showcase their skills and engage in a bit of camaraderie with fellow paralegal specialists from across Europe, said Spc. Blair Berry, a paralegal specialist with the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery.

“Competing is something I like to do, and I think it’s great that we all get together to compete and at the end of the day we still have a mission; we’re, ‘one team, one fight.’ I think that’s just great,” he said.

The completion of the challenges at the range only marked the end of the physical portion of the test. Next came the mental phase. Competitors took a written exam that tested their mastery of the paralegal skills, then changed into their dress uniforms for the competition’s final event -- an appearance before a board of judges that tested their military and paralegal knowledge.

The day finished with the announcement of the winners at an awards ceremony and barbeque.

Berry was named Best Paralegal Soldier, while the title of Best Paralegal NCO went to Staff Sgt. Andrew Hillberry of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. Hillberry works at the Baumholder, Germany legal center and Berry works at the 21st TSC Staff Judge Advocate Office in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Berry said the competition brings out the best in the paralegal Soldiers and helps uphold the standards expected of Soldiers. It’s not just about showing the paralegals have mastered legal terms and Army facts, Hillberry added, but also about determination and perseverance.

“This shows that if you put the hard work into it, just keep at it and don’t quit, that anyone can do anything,” he said.

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