Different paths lead top two III Corps Soldiers to same goal
Staff Sgt. Bryanna Poulin, III Corps Public AffairsOne was concerned his warrior tasks and physical training test were not on-par. The other faced physical concerns from an injury and fears about weather conditions affecting his performance. Their hesitations were unfounded as they were announced winners of the 2012 III Corps NCO and Soldier Best Warriors Competition.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
From June 4-7, Staff Sgt. Robert Brower, a field artilleryman from Fort Sill, Okla., with the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade and Sgt. Eder Tavera, an infantry team leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., competed against eight of their peers to win the prestigious competition.
Despite the fact that both men had the same thought when their names were announced, the path which led them here was different.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Did they really say my name?’ I heard them say staff sergeant and I thought, ‘I’m the only staff sergeant. Right? … they said my name,’” Brower said. He joked that he didn’t want to walk and get the award if they actually called someone else’s name.
Tavera, on the other hand, felt winning the competition was a testament to what he does daily as an infantryman, “Whatever we were tested on, we should already know,” Tavera said. “I had to have fun with it and let muscle memory take over … these events are something my Soldiers and I train on every day and goals I maintain.”
It was training that helped both winners reach a goal they can be proud of.
“His short-term goal was to become the III Corps NCO of the Year along with making sergeant first class,” Staff Sgt. Nicholas O’Donoghue, Brower’s sponsor, said. “Ultimately, he wants to retire as a battalion command sergeant major.”
Though becoming a senior NCO is a long-term goal of Brower’s, the leadership and military schools he’s already completed in the short five years he’s been in the Army speaks for itself.
“Since he joined in 2006, he’s been a battery master gunner, systems maintenance NCOIC and a graduate of the Patriots Master Gunner Course,” O’Donoghue said. “Not only has he had leadership positions and taken tough courses, he’s been stationed in South Korea and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Yet through tough assignments and extensive deployments, Brower still continued to shine brighter than his peers.
“While deployed, he was inducted in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, and he’s moved up in the ranks quickly,” O’Donoghue said. “He’s not only squared away, but he’s already a platoon sergeant with just a few years in the Army.”
Like Brower, Tavera also dreams of one day becoming a battalion command sergeant major. With less than three years in the Army, he’s already on the path to that dream.
“He serves as an infantry team leader, is a combat lifesaver, airborne qualified and has received his Combat Infantry and Expert Infantry Badges,” Sgt. Alex Thompson, Tavera’s sponsor, said. “But what makes him stand out the most is his traits as a leader. He sets the example.”
Agreeing with his sponsor, Tavera explained how his aspirations are for his Soldiers and for his leaders combined.
“I strive to work hard to keep the standards of the Army and show my subordinates how, if they bust their behinds, they can get anything they strive for,” Tavera said. “My driving force is to inspire my ‘Joes,’ make my leadership shine and show I have what it takes.”
While both winners displayed confidence, they both second- guessed themselves at times during the four-day competition at Fort Hood.
“I thought I didn’t run fast enough during the PT test, or maybe I didn’t do the warrior tasks correctly,” Brower said. “I was nervous about everything because the competition was really well stacked, and all the NCO’s were well-prepared – everyone came for business.”
For Tavera, it was physical and weather conditions that gave him pause.
He said he was challenged during the night navigation because his Achilles heel was acting up.
“Plus,” Tavera said, “it was so hot and humid out here. I was constantly chugging water, and really thought I was falling behind in the competition.”
Even though both Soldiers had won the III Corps event, the pride they brought their installation meant a lot more.
“Winning this title brings a lot of pride to Fort Sill because it shows, as a whole, the remarkable training program that comes down from our leadership,” Brower said.
Tavera agreed, saying that winning the competition represents the standards for Fort Riley.
“We train hard,” he said. “Soldiers train hard, and we have high standards. Winning this represents what we’re all about.”