VICENZA, Italy – Working the military police desk at U.S. Army Garrison Italy is challenging for Sgt. Peter Wallis, yet not as tough as the Installation Management Command-Europe Best Warrior competition.
A desk sergeant, Wallis, 23, prevailed during the four-day competition in Baumholder, Germany, overcoming 11 competitors and earning the title of “Best Warrior.” Tasks included marksmanship, a physical fitness test, night land navigation, and medical evacuations. Both junior Soldiers and noncommissioned officers competed at their respective levels.
Why did he take the chance? To prove to himself and to his leaders that he has what it takes to attend more challenging military schools. He aspires to be a drill sergeant or earn a commission.
“The events definitely push you,” Wallis said. “You see how you stand out from your peers.”
Master Sgt. Ulises Gastelum, the garrison Provost Sergeant, recognizes Wallis’s potential.
“Sgt. Wallis is smart and physically fit. He’s driven to better himself,” Gastelum said. “When given the opportunity to compete, he jumped on that right away.”
Wallis’s success can inspire other Soldiers, Gastelum said.
“A lot of the time, Soldiers are intimidated by these competitions,” Gastelum said. “Seeing a young sergeant excel like that, I think it can motivate them to step their game up.”
The next level competition is set for October. However, Wallis, a native of Seabeck, Washington, and his wife are expecting their first child around that time. For Wallis, the next step is likely competing for entry into the Sergeant Morales Club, an exclusive group that selects distinguished NCOs whose leadership merits recognition, Gastelum said.
“He has limitless potential,” Gastelum said. “He can go as far as he wants to go in the Army.”
Upon his return to Italy, the garrison tapped Wallis for another honor – returning a birthday cake to a 90-year-old Italian woman who had hers stolen by GIs in World War II. In a public event in downtown Vicenza, Wallis presented the cake to Meri Mion – 77 years after American troops fighting near the city took hers from a window sill, where it had been set to cool.
"It was a little awkward,” Wallis said. “But, it makes me feel great to give her the cake.”