GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman, senior small group leader (SGL) of Company C, 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) in Grafenwoehr, Germany, is the winner of the United States Army's 2009 Best Warrior Competition.

Beckman competed against 22 other Soldiers, during the week-long competition hosted from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2 at Fort Lee, Va. The Soldiers demonstrated their abilities on written examinations, an appearance before a military board, day-and-night land navigation courses, live-fire ranges, and during combatives competition.

For example:

"There was a scenario [during the stress shoot event] where the point man in their patrol was shot. They literally had to scale a wall, take the point man and get him to safety, engage targets within a simulated village, move to second point, where they engaged targets through a window, and then rescue a hostage and get him to safety," said Sgt. Major of the Army Kenneth Preston in an AUSA release distributed yesterday. "And by that point, they had expended their 5.56 mm ammunition for their M4 and had to engage targets with their M9 pistol, so it required them to be experts with all of this."

In June and after winning the local competition, Beckman said he thought being a senior small group leader at the NCOA gave him a special advantage.

He is a platoon leader of four staff sergeants and 48 sergeants in four squads. He leads, coaches, and counsels, during the stringent 390-hour Warrior Leader Course, the basic leadership course that provides Soldiers with an opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to lead a team size element, and become a noncommissioned officer (NCO).

"One thing that is unique about Sgt. 1st Class Beckman is that he is a legitimate senior NCO. He doesn't have to prove anything to anyone - most of the time, the NCO competitions are won by younger NCOs because their Soldier skills are more current; they use them during their daily activities," said Command Sgt. Major Hu Rhodes, commandant of the 7th Army NCOA, "Working at the NCOA means Beckman gets to perform the Soldier skills daily as he instructs the students."

Rhodes said, U.S. Army Europe provides the academy with exceptional NCOs, which has helped the Academy sustain a higher level of competency and quality over the past 60 years. This month the NCOA celebrates its 60th anniversary. The 7th Army NCOA is the oldest in the United States Army.

"It reflects great credit on the unit, but it's an accumulation of skills over the course of a career," said Rhodes. "Even among the special group of NCOs we get, SFC Beckman stands out. We are justifiably proud."