FORT SILL, Okla.-- An artilleryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery was selected as the Fort Sill and Fires Center of Excellence Soldier of the Quarter after a two-day competition Aug. 9-10.

The "Diamond Brigade" Soldier outmatched service members who represented various units assigned here.

Pfc. Nicholas Ward, a fire direction specialist, expressed his appreciation for winning but realized there's more work ahead.

"I was happy that I won the board, but there is always another step," said Ward. "I am just trying to do my best and represent the brigade, battalion and post."

The competition's events consisted of both physical and mental challenges ranging from an Army Physical Fitness Test to physical tests on basic Soldier skills and a standard board proceeding.

On the first day of the competition, the Soldiers underwent an APFT, an in-ranks inspection and an urban land navigation course.

The troops demonstrated their ability to perform various warrior tasks at each point they navigated to.

On the second day of the event, the service members were mentally tested on their knowledge of various Army-related topics by a panel of board members, which consisted of five command sergeants major and a recorder.

Ward attended two board competitions prior to competing at post-level.

"The atmosphere for the Soldier of the quarter board was more relaxed than the previous boards I attended," said Ward. "They are just getting easier."

A Soldier typically must exceed standards through exemplary performance to be considered for a recommendation to a board.

Event participation requires a balance of mental focus and calm composure.

"Everything is important," said Ward. "So, I got my physical fitness [score] up to 300, qualified expert on my weapon and made sure I had a better than general knowledge of all the subjects."

Ward added he reviewed mistakes from previous boards just in case.

He studied for about two weeks for the Soldier of the quarter board with the support of his noncommissioned officer.

Ward received a 1st Infantry Division coin from Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, deputy commanding general for support, and Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera, the 1st ID CSM.

The newly married Antiochin, Ill.-native does not know if he will be representing the "Diamond Brigade" at the upcoming Fort Sill and Fires Center of Excellence Soldier of the Year competition because he recently submitted an application with the Special Operations Forces.