The second line of the NCO Creed states “I am a Noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers.” Staff Sgt. Corey Walton, 323d Army Band, “Fort Sam’s Own” musician, takes this line to heart, having won the Best Warrior Competitions and NCO of the Year at both U.S. Army North and U.S. Army Futures Command.
Walton, the reigning Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston NCO of the year is a member of “Fort Sam’s Own” 323d Army Band, and strives to motivate, mentor, and adapt to all of his Soldiers’ needs.
“For me, what keeps me driven- I know it is going to sound corny- but it’s the opportunity to lead soldiers,” Walton said. “Where I am in my career now, the knowledge that I have, and my ability to help shape someone’s career in the Army is what keeps me going in this part of my time in the Army.”
Over the last couple of years Walton has been honing his leadership skills and deciding what type of leader he wants to be. Walton, who is originally from Valdosta, Georgia, says throughout his career as an NCO, he has and will continue to encounter many different types of personalities. He actively works to adjust his leadership style to fit the needs of his Soldiers, so they in turn can grow to be strong leaders.
“The biggest challenge for me for Best Warrior was just having to get those warrior tasks and drills back in my head,” Walton stated. “It’s a lot of information that I haven’t used since AIT and basic training. Getting that stuff back in my head so I can actually check each block when we come to those tasks.”
Soldier readiness is something taught throughout the U.S. Army and Walton believes that leading by example is one of the ways to lead his soldiers.
“One of my goals in competing was to motivate my soldiers to compete in the quarterly Best Warrior competitions,” Walton said. “It was also an opportunity for my unit to show Army musicians are Soldiers first and there are tasks that we must know to be well-rounded Soldiers.”
When he initially joined the U.S. Army, Walton didn’t know being a part of the U.S. Army band would be an option. But now he believes it was the best career for him and set him on the path of success. Walton auditioned for the band 15 years ago and now he is a part of U.S. Army North’s “Fort Sam’s Own.”
The Army Band’s motto is to promote the Army, our nation’s interests, and help ensure its readiness to conduct operations in peacetime conflict and war. While Walton is a member of “Fort Sam’s Own,” he also encourages younger soldiers, future Best Warrior competitors, and those thinking about enlisting to focus on physical fitness and soldier readiness.
“Physical fitness is a must,” he said. “If there are things physically you have challenges with or personal goals, start working on that now. It will definitely set you behind your peers if you allow that part of your Soldiering to lack, but it also prepares you for everything else the Army is building you to do.”
As the Creed states, every NCO is a member of a time honored Corps who devotes their career to be a leader to all soldiers. In addition to preparing for the next level of the Best Warrior competition, Walton ensures his soldiers are taken care of and he is a leader first.
Walton will represent U.S. Army North and Army Futures command at the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition October 4-15, 2021 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.