News: Auburn native wins brigade Soldier of the Year
Story by Sgt. Sarah Enos
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.- A 26-year-old specialist adjusted his black tie, stood in front of a mirror, and looked at his reflection. His brown hair was shaved and he wore black modern square glasses over his espresso colored eyes. He had worked hard for this day; he was going to win Brigade Soldier of the Year.
Spc. Daniel Bell, a satellite communication systems operator- maintainer with, C Company, 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, won the 593rd Sustainment Brigade Soldier of the Year board, here, April 19.
To be considered a candidate for the board, Bell had to submit his Army Physical Fitness Test score and weapons qualification score. He prepared for Soldier of the Year though weeks of study and practice, additionally, his non commissioned officer support channel ensured he was ready for the challenge.
The boards consist of a president and four senior non-commissioned officers who score the candidate according to the appearance the soldier’s uniform, military bearing, basic drill, and knowledge about various military subjects.
“I wanted him to put himself out there and take that leap of faith to go before a board,” said Sgt. Harmand R. Weeks, a superviser with C Company, 51st ESB. “I knew that by going to these boards he would develop confidence and would excel.”
Just over two years ago, Bell entered the military, completing his basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I joined the Army,” said Bell, a native of Auburn, Ind. “I just came in and did the best I could.”
“When I first joined I was 215 pounds,” said Bell who is now 180 pounds. “I was well over the weight I needed to be. I could hardly pass a Army Physical Fitness Test and at first I didn’t.”
Bell’s APFT score increased on two consecutive tests by more than 25 points each time.
“Everything began to fall in place with his first 300 APFT score and his expert weapons qualifications,” said Weeks. “Once he had those two things under his belt, it was easy to push him towards greater things.
Bell faced many struggles during his journey to compete for Soldier of the Year.
“I bombed the first board I went to,” said Bell. “I did not want to fail miserably in front of the people I don’t know or those I work with everyday. It was a hard thing to push through.”
Bell, like others, finds it a challenge to be in front of a lot people he does not know.
“I think he is just like anyone else,” said Weeks. “He was nervous in the beginning, not knowing how it would play out. “
His wife, son and co-workers encouraged him to continue.
“Everyone was motivated that I was going to the board and played a part in helping me study,” said Bell. “People from work asked me random questions while walking down the hall. My son and wife quizzed me almost every night for the last month, so my wife is probably relieved she is done for a while. The more I knew going into the boards, the more confidant I felt.”
Bell demonstrated resiliency by being able to recover quickly, figure out the rules, negotiate his environment and make things happen.
“He faced his fears head on and overcame his challenges slowly over time,” said Weeks. “He got frustrated along the way, especially in some of the mock boards, but he didn’t stop.”
Bell showed that he could achieve his goals despite his fear of trying something new.
“You’re not going to be perfect at everything,” said Bell. “Everyone has weaknesses. Identifying your weakness is your true strength.”
He felt it was hard work but the end result was rewarding.
“The board was competitive,” said Bell. “I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go.”
Bell does not want to stop after winning this board; he has future goals he would like to complete.
“I’m not going to limit myself to one thing,” said Bell. “I want to pursue my bachelors degree in engineering and strive to be Sgt. Major of the Army one day. I’m just going to reach for the sky and see where I go.”
This will not be the last major event in Bell’s career. His superviser believes he is capable of great things in the Army.
“Fifteen years from now, if heard Spc. Bell was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Bell, I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Weeks.