BALAD, Iraq — Since the beginning of his military career, Staff Sgt. Cleveland W. Upton, of Vincennes, Ind., squad leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., has always been the type of Soldier to lead from the front.
Not only was Upton apart of the first group of Soldiers with the "Dragon" Brigade when it re-stood at Fort Riley, Kan., in 2006, he was also the first enlisted Soldier in the brigade to graduate from Ranger school.
"When we all came to Fort Riley we were all new Soldiers," said Upton. "[The leadership] wanted to give someone the chance to go to Ranger school. They [asked] who wanted to go and I was one of the first to raise my hand."
Other than the birth of his son and getting married, Upton considers graduating Ranger school to be one of the best feelings he's ever had.
"A lot of it was learning on the fly which was kind of tough to do. So, when I actually graduated it was a really good feeling," he said. "My first sergeant came to see me graduate and my parents were there. My dad pinned the tab on me. It was an amazing feeling."
With nearly five years in the Army, Upton has already earned the rank of a staff sergeant.
"When I came in, I was really motivated to do everything I could, get everything I could out of the job and get as much training as possible," said Upton. "So, for those first two years I did a lot of things as far as schools and with that came the promotions."
"In everything we do, I like to be the guy out leading in front," he said. "If my Soldiers are out doing a detail or a mission, there's never a time when they say, 'Where's [Staff Sgt.] Upton,' because I'm always out there and hopefully that instills in them some kind of leadership."
Upton is currently deployed for a second time to Iraq and plans to become a warrant officer in aviation.