Fort Riley Soldier wins III Corps Best Warrior competition
Sgt. Eder Tavera, Co. A, 1st Bn. 63rd Armor Regt., 2nd HBCT, 1st Inf. Div., left, competes in the III Corps Best Warrior Competition.
Story By: Staff Sgt. Bryanna Poulin, III CORPS PUBLIC AFFAIRS
FORT HOOD, Texas – "I'm glad I went to the bathroom," they both said in unison. Although standing in a room full of senior and noncommissioned officers may be nerve racking for some, going to the bathroom was the first thought that raced through the minds of the 2012 III Corps NCO and Soldier Best Warriors of the year.
Last week Staff. Sgt Robert Brower, field artilleryman, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and Sgt. Eder Tavera, infantry team leader, Company A, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, competed against 10 of their peers to win the prestigious competition.
Despite the fact that both young 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 as he joked 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."
Training and goals both winners can be proud of.
"His short-term goal was to become the III Corps NCO of the Year, along with making sergeant first class," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas O'Donoghue who sponsored Brower. "Ultimately, he wants to retire as a battalion command sergeant major."
Although becoming a senior enlisted NCO is a long-term goal of Brower's, the leadership and military schools he's already done in the five years he's been in the Army speaks for itself.
"Since he joined in 2006, he's been a batter master gunner, systems maintenance (noncommissioned officer in charge) 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 Korea and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."
Yet through tough assignments and extensive deployments, Brower still continued to shine above his peers, O'Donoghue said.
"While deployed, he was inducted in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, and he's moved up in the ranks quick," he 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, and with less than three years in the Army, he's already begun 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 Badge," said Sgt. Alex Thompson, Tavera's sponsor. "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 Soldier 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 strive for anything," 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.
"I thought I didn't run fast enough during the (physical fitness) test or maybe I didn't do the warrior tasks correct," 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 the physical and weather elements that gave him doubts.
"I was challenged during the night navigation because my achilles in my ankle was acting up," Tavera said. "Plus, 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, they said.
"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 concluded Brower's statement saying that winning the competition represents the standards for Fort Riley.
"We train hard … Soldiers train hard, and we have high standards … winning this represents what we're all about," Tavera said.