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    XVIII Airborne Corps NCO of the year: Sgt. 1st Class Brandyn Vanderbilt

    10th MTN DIV hosts XVIII Corps Best Squad Competition

    Photo By Spc. Kasimir Jackson | Ssg. Brandon Vanderbilt (right), discusses the squad an individual plan for completing...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Duke Edwards 

    50th Public Affairs Detachment

    “All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own.”

    Those guiding principles in the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer were at the forefront of Sgt. 1st Class Brandyn Vanderbilt’s mind as he competed and earned the title of Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year during the XVIII Airborne Corps Best Squad Competition at Fort Drum, New York, July 24-28, 2023.

    The journey to winning the XVIII Airborne Corps NCO of the Year started with Vanderbilt, an infantryman assigned to 2nd Armored Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and his squad winning the 2nd ABCT and 3rd ID’s Best Squad Competitions.

    Upon being named the NCO of the Year, Vanderbilt said he was “honored and humbled” and praised his Soldiers for pushing him to his limits and allowing themselves to be pushed beyond their limits.

    “Competition is necessary because that's what makes the Army good,” said Vanderbilt. “That's what's going to make our Army stay the best Army in the world. The Army needs NCOs to develop Soldiers and you do that through competitions.”

    The five-day competition included various warrior tasks and battle drills, an obstacle course, a ruck march, land navigation, marksmanship events, a repelling and mountaineer course, Expert Physical Fitness Assessment, Army Combat Fitness Test, a formal selection board and a written exam.

    During the competition, he embodied the principles set forth in the NCO Creed. He communicated consistently with his Soldiers and although he demanded excellence from them throughout the competition, he always placed his Soldiers' needs above his own. These principles remain beyond the competition, back at 3rd ID, as evidenced by how his Soldiers hold him in high regard.

    “The more a Soldier trusts you, the more he's willing to do for you,” said Pfc. Elijah Doherty, an infantryman assigned to 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “I'll tell you, I’d die for him. I have that much trust in him. I'll do whatever he wants me to do.”

    Even Soldiers who remember Vanderbilt back when he served as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, speak highly of his extraordinary leadership.

    “He was personable and created a safe space for trainees who had legitimate concerns and questions,” said Sgt. Daniel Thompson, who was a trainee during the cycle Vanderbilt won drill sergeant of the cycle. “He was one of, if not the only drill sergeant, who reminded me I was still human. He felt more like a coach, and personally, that’s what I needed more than anything at that time. I think we all did.”

    When reflecting on his time as a drill sergeant, Vanderbilt said, “From day one to week 10, there's so much you can do to help these trainees out to set them up for success. You have people coming from all backgrounds of life, different countries, impoverished places, officer school candidates, and you get to affect change on all of these people. For me, that was the most rewarding assignment I've had in the Army.”

    Vanderbilt credits Capt. Joseph Dywan and 1st Sgt. Isaac McKee, leaders from his first unit, as major influences on his leadership style.

    “They set the standard for what leadership should look like,” Vanderbilt said. “They went above and beyond. They always took care of us from the lowest ranking private to the highest ranking enlisted or officer.”

    After receiving orders for Fort Stewart, Georgia, Vanderbilt admitted he didn’t know what to expect. He felt he had a reason to go to work as a drill sergeant because his goal was to make trainees the best Soldiers they could be, but unsure how that would translate elsewhere.

    However, at Fort Stewart, his reason remains the same: to push his Soldiers to be the best they can be, to include setting personal and career goals.

    “When I first got here, I wasn’t the best Soldier,” said Doherty. “I was unmotivated and wanted to get out of the Army. But when he showed up, I saw his passion not only for the job, but for [mine] and the Soldiers’ well-being. He showed me what it’s like to be a Soldier, a leader, and prepared me to take the next step in my job title. He’s the type of leader to encourage you to go after the Expert Infantryman Badge and Ranger Tab because he knows it makes better leaders in the Army. He’s changed my life with his motivation.”

    Vanderbilt has also set personal and career goals of his own. He’s currently working on earning his associate’s degree, then has his eyes set on a bachelor’s degree in turf management. Another personal goal he is currently working on is training for a marathon, with a long term goal of completing an ultramarathon. His next goal is to compete in the Army’s Best Ranger Competition.

    With all the success Vanderbilt has achieved in his military career, his family remains his primary source of motivation.

    “My wife, Lexie, does a lot to make everything easy,” said Vanderbilt. “I know the kids, Emersyn and Emmett, are taken care of, the house is taken care of, it takes a lot of stress off my shoulders, and allows me to focus on work. If you have a good stable support system at home, a wife, kids, or family, you're going to do well at your job. You’re going to live a meaningful and really good life.”

    When asked what advice he would give incoming trainees today or Soldiers who are unsure of the next step in their career, Vanderbilt concluded, “When I first joined the Army, my biggest obstacles were self-doubt and the fear of failure. The older I get, the more I realize that fear is a tool that you can utilize to make yourself better. One or two things could happen: you could just be scared the whole time and fear failure or you can just grab it by the horns and knock it out of the park. Take that fear you have of failure and just use it as your source of energy to get things done.”


    Date Taken: 08.15.2023
    Date Posted: 08.16.2023 11:30
    Story ID: 451420
    Hometown: MOBILE, ALABAMA, US

    Web Views: 200
    Downloads: 1