GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Exhausting marches, countless sit-ups and push-ups, a board appearance, timed marksmanship qualifications, and a dreaded two-mile sprint are only a few of the grueling tasks undertaken by Staff Sgt. Matthew M. Senna, a senior small group leader at the 7th U.S. Army's Noncommissioned Officer Academy during U.S. Army Europe's Best Warrior Competition here.

USAREUR brought together its finest Soldiers from across Europe to compete. Each Soldier won the competition at the unit level before progressing to the regional level. The four-day competition challenges Soldiers and noncommissioned officers in warrior tasks and drills, decision-making, problem-solving and leadership.

There are nine NCOs and nine junior enlisted competitors vying for the privilege of competing at the Army-wide Department of the Army Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year contest, which will be hosted Oct. 15-18, at Fort Lee, Va.

"This competition instills excellence and encourages Soldiers not to become complacent or skip out on training when doing simple Soldier tasks," Senna said. "You are dealing with the best of each unit and meeting Soldiers from all around Europe."

Senna, a resident of Folsom, Calif., graduated from Shasta High School in Redding, Calif., in 1997. Two days after the attack on New York's World Trade Center he walked into a recruiter's office to sign up. He's been serving his country ever since.

"Both my grandfathers were in WWII and my father in Vietnam, so the military life has been in my family," Senna said. "I joined to do my part, as a sort of a call-to-arms. I intended to stay in for only two years, but then I found I enjoyed the military and had found my niche."

Follow Senna and the USAREUR Best Warrior Competition on the Web at

Page last updated Tue October 9th, 2012 at 12:06