FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Two paratroopers proved to be the best on Fort Bragg, having recently been selected as the 2008 XVIII Airborne Corps Non-commissioned officer and Soldier of the Year.
The XVIII Airborne Corps NCO of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Carswell, an artilleryman, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, said winning the 82nd Airborne Division NCO of the Year competition in May built his confidence in taking on the XVIII Abn. Corps NCO of the Year competition.
"No matter what is thrown my way, the mindset is to give 110 percent and never quit," said Carswell, a George Hildebrand, N.C. native. "The honor of being named NCO of the Year is more than a title obviously. I am proud to have represented my unit well and to display the type of NCOs we have in the 82nd Airborne Division."
He went on to say, "(Which) I am fully prepared to live up to the raised expectations that I know are expected of me on a daily basis."
Carswell was recognized as the 82nd Abn. Div. NCO of the Year on May 22 by President George W. Bush during All-American week. He said that with this honor, both in the 82nd and XVIII Abn. Corps, comes a great responsibility to set an example for his fellow Soldiers.
"I hope it just reinforces the respect I have gained from my peers as a competent NCO over the last three plus years in my battalion," Carswell said. "I personally felt that my desire to compete propels me to be successful. Secondly, winning the 82nd Airborne Division NCO of the year gave me confidence I needed, which I was able to carry over to the XVIII Airborne Corps competition."
Spc. Zach Shepherd, also an artilleryman with Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, said being named Soldier of the Year doesn't mean being his best just for the competition. The Esturgis, Mich., native added that having the honor means so much more.
"Because now I have to uphold and exceed every standard (expected of me) because now everyone (commanders, first sergeants and chain of command) will be looking at me," Shepherd explained. He said he felt he must do his best to lead by example and help his fellow Soldiers to succeed as well. "I know that this also comes with more responsibility which will give me the opportunity to become a more experienced Soldier and to learn the knowledge I need to pass on (to fellow Soldiers.)"
Shepherd attributed his success to his unit for their patience and guidance, and encourages other Soldiers to try competing for the NCO or Soldier of the Year competition.
"I think a lot of (Soldiers) can do this if they try," he said. "They just have to take the first step and go there. A lot of people are more capable than they think. It's an opportunity for more experiences they can use."
Though they may not have placed at the FORSCOM level they will continue to be the best Soldier they can be on Fort Bragg.