The outbreak and subsequent pandemic associated with the novel coronavirus has limited the ability for Soldiers to attend schools due to cancellations and limitations in class size. In spite of these limitations, two All American Paratroopers recently proved that when given the chance, they dominate in any setting.
Sergeant 1st Class Nicholas Candelaria, an operations sergeant assigned to A Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and Sgt. Dmitry Koystrik, a team leader assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div., recently earned the Distinguished Leadership Award and Distinguished Honor Graduate from U.S. Army Sapper Leader Course and Ranger School, respectively.
Candelaria attended Sapper Leader Course Class Number 09-20 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and graduated on August 21, 2020. He attributes his success to the experience he gained during his career as an engineer.
“I used all the knowledge I gained during my twelve years in the Army and shared it with my fellow students,” said Candelaria. “I was completely honored when I was selected… I just wanted to help as many people as I could.”
Koystrik attended Ranger School Class 08-20 at Fort Benning, Georgia and graduated on August 27, 2020. He believes his success stems from his desire to be the best possible leader for his Paratroopers.
“It’s important to me to earn this honor because I am a non-commissioned officer and a leader in the Army… the best way to lead your people is by example,” Koystrik said. “I want to be a good example for my Soldiers.”
Both All American leaders believe every Paratrooper in the Division should strive to earn these coveted tabs if possible.
“You learn a lot of stuff there (Sapper Leader Course) that you can bring back to your Paratroopers and help make them better,” said Candelaria. “You’re more lethal after going through Sapper School, you bring more to the fight.”
Koystrik had similar thoughts on the importance of Ranger School.
“Ranger School is important because it provides a condensed infantry experience, it simulates combat,” he said. “If you decide to go, be physically ready because you will be pushed hard during the course.”
Command Sgt. Maj. David Pitt, the 82nd Abn. Div. command sergeant major, also believes every Paratrooper should strive to attend leadership schools like these.