‘Diamond’ Brigade artilleryman earns Soldier of Quarter at Fort Sill
Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, senior commander, Fort Riley, right, presents Pfc. Nicholas Ward, fire direction specialist, HHB, 2nd Bn., 18th FA Regt., left, with a 1st Inf. Div. coin Aug. 17, in the battalion’s war room. Ward was the winner of the Fort Sill, Okla., Soldier of the Quarter. Photo by: 75TH FIRES BDE.
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Story by: Sgt. Nathaniel Foster
75TH FIRES BDE. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
FORT SILL, Okla. – An artilleryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment, 75th Fires Brigade was selected as the Fort Sill and Fires Center of Excellence Soldier of the Quarter after a two-day competition – Aug. 9 to 10 at Fort Sill.
The "Diamond" Brigade Soldier outmatched service members who represented various units assigned at Fort Sill.
Pfc. Nicholas A. Ward, fire direction specialist and winner of the competition, said he was happy to know he won the post-level quarter competition, but said he realized a precaution many competitors know all too well.
"I was happy that I won the board, but there is always another step," Ward said. "I am just trying to do my best and represent the brigade, battalion and post."
The events for the competition consisted of both physical and mental challenges, ranging from an Army Physical Fitness test to PT on basic Soldier skills and a standard board proceeding.
On the first day of the competition, the Soldiers underwent an Army PT test, an in-ranks inspection and an urban land navigation course. The troops demonstrated their ability to perform various warrior tasks at each point.
On the second day of the event, the service members were mentally tested on their knowledge of various Army-related topics by a panel of board members, which consisted of five command sergeant majors and a recorder.
Ward attended two board competitions prior to competing for the post-level competition.
"The atmosphere for the Soldier of the Quarter board was more relaxed than the previous boards I attended," Ward said. "They are just getting easier."
A Soldier typically must exceed standards through exemplary performance to be considered for a recommendation to a board. Participating in the event requires a balance of mental focus and calm composure to rise above the intense atmosphere.
"Everything plays a key role," Ward said. "So, I got my physical fitness up to 300, expert on my weapon and making sure I had a better-than-general knowledge of all the subjects. Another key thing I had to do was to learn from mistakes I made in past competitions," he said.
Ward studied for about two weeks for the Soldier of the Quarter board with the support of his noncommissioned officer, he said.
He received a 1st Infantry Division coin from Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, senior commander, Fort Riley, and Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera, Fort Riley command sergeant major.
Ward, a newly married Antiochin, Ill., native, said he doesn't know if he will be representing the Diamond Brigade at the upcoming Fort Sill and FCoE Soldier of the Year competition because of a recent application he submitted for selection with the Special Operations Forces.