FORT CARSON, Colo. - At the age of 10, Jake Fredette had to learn to live without one of the closest people in his life ... his mother.
"The world became real to me, it felt as if my childhood had ended," said the Phoenix, Arizona native. "I went from being a really happy kid to not so much."
The now staff sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, suffered yet another loss.
"My father ended up passing away due to heart failure during my last year in high school," said Fredette. "I was older at that point and I was able to handle the loss better."
Growing up in a nontraditional Family and working minimum wage jobs after high school, the last thing on his mind was joining the Army, much less earning the title of Best Warrior NCO for the 4th Inf. Div.
"I feel blessed to have opportunities such as this one, and I just feel like I am meant to do this Army thing," Fredette said. "I think through all the bad things that happened while I was young, it showed me that failure and loss is not the end of life and it can't and won't stop me."
However, Fredette didn't always hold that amount of confidence.
Six years after graduating from high school, Fredette found out he was to going to be a father and realized he needed to find, not only a job, but a career.
"I didn't really have high self-esteem or guidance," said Fredette. "Although I had my girlfriend, now wife's, support at the time I thought I sucked at everything and I assumed I didn't score well on (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery)."
After talking to the recruiter and realizing he had multiple options for jobs in the Army, Fredette enlisted in 2012.
Fredette attended Basic Combat Training and graduated from Advanced Individual Training as a combat medic the same year.
After completing initial entry training, Fredette went on to Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by Alaska.
While in Alaska, Fredette earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, a badge which only has a 15 to 17 percent passing rate, according to the U.S. Army Medical Department official page.
Fredette said he began to realize he enjoyed the Army lifestyle and his confidence grew.
"I don't really think the military molded me into the person I am today but just built onto principles I already had growing up," he said. "I immediately knew the military was and is right for me."
Fredette's hunger to challenge himself followed him into his next assignment, Fort Carson.
Capt. Jeramias E. Ortiz, medical operations officer for 2nd IBCT, who knew Fredette from their time in Alaska, said he was impressed by Fredette's continuous drive and motivation.
"(Fredette) holds a lot of grit in things he does," said Ortiz. "He is not the biggest (guy), he is not the fastest (guy) but he outworks everybody around him."
Ortiz added that Fredette is the type of Soldier who leads by example.
"I think having someone like him in the Army team benefits everybody because he sets the example and tone for others in the Army," said Ortiz. "They look at him and his achievements and it gives them the motivation to push themselves."
Since the competition, Ortiz said he thinks Fredette has brought a positive light to medics and their capabilities.
"He showed that medics aren't just people running around with an aid bag, but that they are capable of doing a lot more and positively functioning in tactical environments when called upon," he said.
Fredette, who will now be representing the 4th Inf. Div. as the NCO for the Best Warrior Competition at the III Corps competition, said he is proud of his accomplishment but most of all he hopes to encourage younger Soldiers.
"I'm not the greatest Soldier but the one thing that I am good at - and has helped throughout the years - is learning to adapt," said Fredette. "I want Soldiers to know (they) can overcome anything and even when (they) fail, (to) get up, learn from it and try again."