A Southern Miss student was recently named Mississippi Army National Guard’s Soldier of the Year. William Landrum, a member of the Army ROTC program and criminal justice major, won the award after extensive competition.
“I feel so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to be able to represent Mississippi,” Landrum said. “It has been a great experience and I know that I can take a lot from it to further my career as an officer in the United States Army.”
Landrum had to prove that he was one of the top members of his unit to be given the opportunity to compete.
“Every unit will pick one of their best soldiers, and my unit picked me to represent us at a battalion level competition where I came in first place and moved to the state competition and also got first place,” Landrum said. “But (to) be chosen I guess just being physically fit, knowing all the material and just being a well-rounded soldier all together.”
The actual competition for Soldier of the Year for Mississippi took place Feb. 24-28 and comprised of multiple events and tests such as a physical fitness test, written essay and land navigation. Many of his days started at 4:30 a.m.
After talking with some of his other competitors, Landrum knew this was going to be tough and did not have much room for mistakes.
“My competitor Scott and I were literally neck and neck after day three when he came out on top after the combative event,” Landrum said.
The final event to determine who would become Soldier of the Year came down to a board meeting and soldier’s creed, which Landrum felt very comfortable with. He was confident he had this, but still knew there were no guarantees.
The winner was announced that night at a banquet, and by this point Landrum felt that winning was not everything.
“I knew that winner or not I was blessed to even have the opportunity to be able to compete and that it has been an honor,” he said.
Still, a win was rewarding.
“After they called my name and I was awarded the trophy I was overwhelmed with joy and felt so honored to represent Mississippi in the regional competition.”
“This is a monumental feat,” said Maj. William “Lee” Henry of the Army ROTC department at Southern Miss.
The next portion of the competition for Landrum is to compete on the regional level against representatives from Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico. The competition will kick off in Florida and consist of similar events to the state-level competition. Whoever advances from the regional competition will move on to compete for the national title.