CAMP BUTNER, N.C. - Although still a teenager, one soldier proved he was one of the 518th Sustainment Brigade’s best warriors by winning Soldier of the Year during the 518th Sustainment Brigade’s Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Butner, N.C., Jan 9-12.
New to the Army, Pfc. Nathan B. Jackson, a petroleum supply specialist with the 941st Transportation Company out of Charleston, S.C., proved he had what it took to be the brigades best junior enlisted soldier.
“I’m ecstatic,” the two-year Army veteran said. “I had no idea. It was really close between my battle buddy and I. It could have been anyone’s game but I think I stepped it up at the end with the board. I studied really hard. I’m extremely happy.”
Although he said he wasn’t sure what to expect from the competition, he said he was pleased once he learned about his competitors and the atmosphere.
“When I arrived we were all friendly and we helped each other out a lot on the courses during the events, as well as being opponents. We knew that we needed to step up our own games as well as help others.”
That teamwork in a competitive environment is what Command Sgt. Maj. Ciearro M. Faulk, command sergeant major of the 518th Sustainment Bde., said the competition embodies.
“This is what the enlisted and NCO corps is all about. We are the implementers; we are the backbone of the Army,” he said. “What that basically means is that we don’t leave our fellow soldiers down. We go, we do our best, we accomplish the mission, and then if we see someone falling behind, we assist them.”
Besides the teamwork and competitiveness, the Topshall, Maine, native said that he plans to take lessons learned back to his unit. At 19 years of age, he wants to “take back the leadership skills that I’ve learned throughout this and more knowledge in areas of training that we don’t usually get to cover as reservists.”
Not only does he want to share what he’s learned, he said he would like to “encourage more enlisted and NCOs to compete.”
Although Jackson is young, his pride for the military runs deep.
“I’ve got a very long line of family history in the military. My brother is a big inspiration to me. He’s two years older than me and he just graduated college. He branched to the military police as an officer. I joined nine days after I graduated high school and went straight to basic and AIT [advanced individual training]. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I look forward to getting my degree so that I can become an officer as well.”
Not only did his family set the stage for him to do well in the military by being supportive and providing him with mentors, he said that during 7th through 9th grade he was part of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a youth program sponsored by the U.S. Navy. “We went through a fourteen-day basic training FTX (field training exercise), basic sailor stuff, so I already had that discipline set in place.”
Jackson will need that discipline because as the 2014 518th Sustainment Bde. Soldier of the Year, Jackson will move forward to the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Best Warrior Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla., in March.