FORT HOOD, Texas -- First Army Division West is known as the training machine, and for good reason. Every year Division West observer controller/trainers in eight brigades train approximately 40,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines for overseas contingency missions.

It takes a lot of time, energy and dedication to train all those service members, but, even more important, it takes highly professional and well-trained cadre.

Last month, a Division West Soldier earned the highest possible distinction in the third class to graduate the Fort Hood Air Assault School.

"I'm really proud about being the honor graduate of the air assault school," said Staff Sgt. Ambrose Moriba, an OC/T with Company B, 3-395th Armor Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade. "I put a lot of work into it, and it paid off."

Moriba is the second Division West Soldier to be an honor graduate of the Fort Hood Air Assault School. In fact, Moriba and Capt. Bryan Peterson, who was distinguished honor graduate of the Fort Hood Air Assault School's inaugural class in July, are both members of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade.

"We are very proud of Staff Sgt. Moriba, just as we were of Capt. Peterson a couple of months ago," said Col. Richard Creed, 479th Field Artillery Brigade commander. "Command Sgt. Major Brown and I are really privileged to have folks from our team get the opportunity to attend and graduate in the first place."

Both Soldiers trained hard for the school and, not only did they accomplish their goals, but their efforts have had a tremendous pay-off for the division.

"Excellence is contagious," said Command Sgt. Major Ronald Orosz, Divison West command sergeant major. "If you go out and set the example, and show your Soldiers that you're out there working hard, they will work hard right along with you."

Moriba is one of nearly 850 OC/Ts assigned to Division West's headquarters and its eight brigades. His mission at Fort Hood focuses on training service members on convoy operations and mounted live fire exercises.

Training hard helps, but following the instructions of others really helped in achieving this goal for the team, Moriba said.

"Before I went to the class, I had a friend that had already been tell me what to look for, and we prepared as a team," Moriba said. "I think my achievement will give my team the zeal and enthusiasm to go to the course themselves."

Moriba, a native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, has served in the U.S. Army for more than 10 years and deployed three times.

He feels proud to train Soldiers for his division and share his knowledge.

"I've already been where they're going and done what they are going to do," Moriba said. "Seeing them train hard gives me the courage to be able to tell them what to look for on their deployment so they will make it home alive."

As do the hundreds of his fellow Division West OC/Ts, Moriba uses his knowledge and know-how for the betterment of armed forces service members.

"They come (to Division West) with a wealth of experience because they came from down range from either Iraq, Afghanistan or some other overseas assignment," Orosz said. "They bring those skills to the table to train our Soldiers."

Division West is fortunate to have so many quality noncommissioned officers and officers on the team, Creed said.

"The quality of our trainers plays a huge role in both the competence and confidence of the units they train," said Creed. "Units who have a positive experience with outstanding observer controller/trainers have a lot more confidence that the standards they are taught are correct and in their ability to deploy in harm's way without undue risk."

Success in combat is a direct result of pride in training and doing your best for the good of your family and friends back home, Moriba said.

"I joined the Army after the Sept. 11 incident," said Moriba. "It gave me the pride to join up, so that I could defend this great nation of ours."