The face of SMDC - Soldier of the Year, Spc. Anthony Bernardo
Spc. Anthony Bernardo, a signals collection analyst in 18th Space Control Company, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, answers a question asked by USASMDC Command Sgt. Major Finnis A. Dodson, during the administrative board event of SMDC’s Best Warrior Competition 2022, at Peterson Space Force Base, June 9, 2020. (Photo by Dottie White/RELEASED) (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Rognstad) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - He did it to step out of his comfort zone and challenge himself. To put himself ahead of his peers and to impress his leadership. Every Soldier has their own reasons for competing in Army Best Warrior Competitions, but not every Soldier has what it takes to win them. Spc. Anthony Bernardo, a signals collection analyst in 18th Space Control Company, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, does though, and he recently won at his command’s level in the Soldier of the year category, which includes ranks private through specialist (E-1 to E-4).

“This is one of those things that when presented to you initially, you are a bit nervous in taking on,” Bernardo said. “But then you realize what an opportunity it is to represent your unit. In taking it a step further, to be able to win at the command level is an accomplishment I don’t take lightly.”

Hailing from Sarasota, Florida, the 20-year-old specialist joined the Army in 2020 and now calls his first duty station at Fort Carson, Colorado, home. Already looking beyond the horizon while in high school, he chose satellite communications (35 Sierra) for his military job because of the opportunities it could lead to in the civilian world.

But while in the service, he wants to take advantage of everything it has to offer, hence competing in BWC - a competition he got the most out of.

“All the events are what one thinks of when it comes to being a Soldier,” Bernardo said. “They aren’t necessarily hard, except maybe the board. That one is intimidating.”

Referring to the sometimes hour-long administrative Q & A board by a panel of sergeants major and first sergeants, Bernardo isn’t alone in his opinion of it. It can, and has many a time, made or broken a Soldier or noncommissioned officer’s chance of winning the competition.

“If you aren’t prepared, good luck,” Sgt. Maj. Finnis A. Dodson, SMDC’s command sergeant major, said of the board event. “We can usually sniff out when a Soldier is just winging it. You are going to get peppered with questions ranging from professional development, to Army regs (regulations), to situational awareness, where you are given a scenario and are asked for your response in dealing with it.”

Bernardo didn’t waver in front of the panel of E-8s and E-9s though.

“Just stay calm and confident in your demeanor,” Bernardo said of how he handled it. “That goes a long way. You start showing signs of nervousness and get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look, you are done.”

And when the competition was done, when asked what was next in preparation for the upcoming BWC at the U.S. Army Forces Command level this summer, Bernardo smiled and said three words: “Train, train, train.”

“Just keep at it,” he said. “Keep pushing myself to be better, but these accomplishments aren’t necessarily my own. I had a lot of help. You are only as good as the Soldiers surrounding you and mentoring you.”