Nenycz could be Indiana's 'Soldier of the Year'

PLYMOUTH — After winning the preliminary 2012 Indiana Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year competition at the end of February, staff sergeant Jerry Nenycz, of Plymouth, is spending most of his time getting ready for the state-level contest March 30.
If he wins — and Nenycz is confident that he has a great chance — he will be named the Indiana 2012 non-commissioned officer of the year, out of thousands of soldiers in the state. The three-day long competition will test nearly every aspect of being a soldier, according to Nenycz.
“We will do day and night land navigation, an air assault obstacle course, an eight-mile road march, a physical fitness test and hand-to-hand combat test,” explained Nenycz. “We will also be graded on our ability to evaluate a casualty, and I will have to be able to call in MEDEVAC.”
Sound like a lot to fit into one weekend? It is, but there’s more. Nenycz and the other five individuals competing will also demonstrate their ability tearing down various weapons systems, working with radio communications, and eventually be quizzed on basic Army knowledge by a panel of higher enlisted officers.
To win the contest, Nenycz said that he plans to excel in areas he knows he is good at, in order to maintain a mental edge over his competitors.
“On the road march, I already do well, but I want to do extremely well,” said Nenycz. “The things that I am really good at, I want to drive home to people.”
For the eight-mile road march, the soldiers will be wearing 20 pounds of body armor and carrying a 40 pound pack. Nenycz said that he has been training with an extra 20 pounds in order to increase his endurance. The march must be completed in two hours.
Nenycz and a friend have been training by running up dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park.
“There’s no one else in the competition doing that, and there is just no way to simulate that (kind of exercise),” said Nenycz. “We’ve also been doing road marches around (South Bend). People stop and ask us if we need rides, but we tell them we are training.”
Nenycz added that he appreciates the support of staff at the LifePlex in Plymouth, where he has been allowed to train although he is not a member.
When asked if he thinks he will win the contest, Nenycz replied simply, “Yeah.”
Laughing, he quickly added, “I don’t want to seem arrogant, but that’s the attitude you have to have. If I didn’t think I could win, why do it? I think I definitely have a very good shot at winning.”
To support him, soldiers Nenycz has recruited created “Team Nenycz” shirts featuring a cartoon paratrooper designed to look like Nenycz.
“I’m very close to (soldiers I’ve recruited) and I take care of them, so they are taking care of me right now,” said Nenycz of the shirt design.