TIKRIT, Iraq – After being named the Soldier of the Quarter for both his battalion and brigade, Pfc. Matthew Poeller, a cannon crew member with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., believes there's nowhere to go but up.
The 22-year-old from Lockport, N.Y., joined the military to take advantage of the educational benefits and the travel opportunities that the military has to offer. He said that so far, his military experience has been everything that he's expected it to be.
"I wanted to get out of New York and see the world," Poeller said.
"Being [in Iraq] isn't as bad as what people say it is, but it is hard being away from Family," he admits.
Poeller says that even though his parents may not understand everything he tells them about what he does, they are still very proud of his accomplishments.
"My first board was in February for the battalion, and I started preparing [in] December," he said. "I [studied] every night and [worked] on my [physical fitness]. I was just trying to be better all around, and it paid off."
"[My parents] are proud of me," he said.
Self-described as an outgoing and knowledgeable person, Poeller loves his job and setting the example.
"I love artillery," he said.
"I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy, especially when it comes to the gun-line and shooting artillery. I'm pretty good at that," he said. "I can help people out. We have a lot of new guys, and I like to get them going with stuff that I did and learned when I was 'the new guy.' I like to teach people, and I love being in the leadership role. It fits me well, I think."
There's no limit for this 'Proud American.' Currently enrolled at Central Texas College, Poeller said that in two years, he hopes to be a noncommissioned officer and plans to become a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. If he decides to make a career out of the military, he said he wants to stay in field artillery and become a command sergeant major.
"I just want to continue getting better and better, no matter what," he said. "I don't want to take a step backward. I won this board; now, I'm going to the division board. I scored a 290-something on my PT test and now, I want a 300. I just want to keep on getting better – just continue working at it."
This work, 'Dragon' brigade Soldier continues to move forward, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.