Story by Dorothy White on 04/17/2018COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- The Noncommissioned officers and Soldiers of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Western Region faced off in the regional Best Warrior Competition April 2-6 to claim a chance to compete in the command's competition June 2-6 in Colorado Springs.
Sgt. Eric Roberts, 100th Missile Defense Brigade, was named the noncommissioned officer Best Warrior and Spc. Cory Cockerham, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, was named the Soldier Best Warrior.
The competition included four NCOs: Sgt. Stephanie Lenhart, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USASMDC/ARSTRAT; Sgt. Brian Lisko, HHC, 1st Space Brigade; Sgt. Vincent Nieves, 1st Space Battalion; and Roberts, and three Soldiers: Cockerham; Spc. Salena Hernandez, 53rd Signal Battalion; and Spc. Lauren Pauzus, 100th Missile Defense Brigade.
The four-day competition took place in Colorado Springs at Fort Carson, and the Air Force Academy and included events such as an Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, a written test and essay, a 12-mile ruck march, a confidence course, day and night land navigation, and presentation before a board.
Roberts, a Greenville, South Carolina, native, said he prepared for about six weeks with a lot of rucking and studying and was pleased with the end result.
"I am always up for a challenge, and I felt it was time for me to do this," said Roberts. "My goal was to win. I wanted it to be decisive. It felt great to accomplish the goal that I set for myself and to represent the 100th Missile Defense Brigade. I know the things that I need to improve upon and I plan to fix those areas. I want to be the most well-rounded Soldier at the command competition in June."
Cockerham said he was excited but at the same time kind of nervous about winning.
"I'm definitely going to have to step up my game going into the next stage," he said. "The ruck was a little more difficult than I expected. About two miles in, I realized that I don't like rucking as much as I thought I did. The ruck wasn't as fun as I hoped it would be, but everything else about the entire week was awesome."
In preparation for the command-level event, Cockerham said he plans to improve on the ruck and his board presence.
Cockerham has advice for others who are considering competing in the future.
"Get out there, prepare yourself, get out and ruck, study hard and just do it," said Cockerham. "Whether you win, lose, draw -- whatever it is. It's a great opportunity. If I hadn't won this year, I would definitely come back and do it again next year.
"I did this to set myself apart from my peers," Cockerham continued. "I heard a lot of my peers say I just don't want to do it,' and I can respect that answer. What fueled my fire the most was one of my peers said I don't have to prove myself to anybody.' Especially as a specialist, you have to prove yourself to everybody. I wanted to come out here and prove not only to myself but to my higher ups that I have what it takes. I want to advance my career, and this was a step in that direction."