Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2019

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Ukrainian immigrant soars to Army’s top competition

Summerlin resident and hospital medical assistant Viktoriya Panova and her son, Karen, (pronounced Kareenia by Ukrainians) Antonyan immigrated to Las Vegas from the Ukraine in 2002.

No, he was not teased about his name while growing up in the Ukraine, says the 23-year-old Antonyan, who attended school and worked part-time as a gas station attendant in the Ukraine before leaving his native country for a new life in America.

And yes, he gets razzed regularly about his first name from new American acquaintances since joining the U.S. Army in February 2003.

However, that has not hindered the heavy equipment operations and rescue specialist from excelling with the Military District of Washington Engineer Company in Washington, D.C.

Now a sergeant, Antonyan is competing this week for the second year in a row at the highest level in the Army to be recognized as Army Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Last year Antonyan actually competed in the Soldier of the Year category prior to his promotion to sergeant.

The competition will be stiff and the challenges considerable for the Las Vegas soldier.

"I haven't even told my mom I'm competing again yet," he said in a telephone interview with In Uniform, adding that he thought he would wait to see if he won.

"I guess I better call her since it will be in the paper there," he said.

On Wednesday, Antonyan, who in August won the competition for and now represents the Army from National Capital Region in the finals, began the day before dawn, competing in a physical fitness test. Then he had to complete a Day Land Navigation Course before supper, followed by a Night Land Navigation Course that lasted until midnight.

This morning Antonyan was scheduled to be on the firing range to compete with an M-16 rifle and to compete in a variety of "Warrior Tasks" this afternoon.

Today's competition was scheduled to be complete at 4:30 p.m., but Friday's competition really gets a jump on the sun with start time set for 2 a.m and a "Mystery Events" scheduled to go until 9 Friday morning.

Antonyan is competing against nine other "Warrior Soldiers."

This year's winners of the NCO and Soldier of The Year competition will be announced Monday at the annual Association of the United States meeting. Winners receive prizes ranging from a computer and savings bonds to a trip to Foriada donated by nonprofit and business organizations totaling approximately $16,000.

Purple Heart winner helps recruiters

Army Spec. Sitthichai Ritthiphon, Desert Pines High School class of 2003 and son of Sawad Ritthiphon and Sanit Yartprachum of Las Vegas, recently served as a Special Recruiter Assistance Program (SRAP) assistant at the Army Nellis Recruiting Station.

The SRAP allows soldiers who recently completed combat tours in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom to return to their hometown areas to share their front line experiences with their community. The soldiers, speaking as community hometown heroes, share with families, friends, local organizations and leaders their first-hand accounts of the war.

Ritthiphon, a combat engineer assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for sustaining wounds during his tour in Iraq.

In Uniform to be archived

This is the last In Uniform column. A clip file for In Uniform, which has been published on Thursdays since April of 2000 and has announced the individual and unit accomplishments of nearly 500 Las Vegas sons and daughters serving their country, will be archived at the Goebel Lowden Veterans Museum, 3333 Cambridge St.

In brief