By Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson, 704th Military Intelligence Public Affairs Office
Three noncommissioned officers and three Soldiers from the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade braved freezing temperatures, ice and blankets of snow to complete several challenges as they competed for top honors in the Best Warrior Challenge competition.
The challenges, held March 13-17, included an Army physical fitness test, a land navigation course, stress shoot exercises, warrior tasks and battle drills, a 12-mile ruck march, and a board on general military knowledge.
Sgt. Cameron Steele was named NCO of the Year. Spc. Mateusz Kupiszewski earned the title of Brigade Soldier of the Year.
“I saw the competition as a way to develop myself as a leader because everything I do as an NCO is to help better lead my Soldiers,” said Steele, a native of Kennesaw, Ga. “Anything that happened during this competition, win or lose, was for them.”
Steele’s sponsor, Staff Sgt. Matthew T. McCarthy, a signals intelligence analyst assigned to the 742nd MI, vocally motivated his Soldier through the competition.
“He has a can-do attitude and a willingness to take on the task, whatever it is, and complete it to the fullest,” McCarthy said. “By winning the NCO of the Year, he has really set the example for the rest of the Soldiers in his platoon, knowing that his hard work paid off.”
The week of unforeseen weather conditions in the area threw some curve balls for the competition, causing a delay of events for an entire day.
But that did not stop Kupiszewski, a Polish immigrant from Riverhead, N.Y., from striving to win.
“Although the bragging rights for me as his sponsor are great, it was my Soldier — Specialist Kupiszewski — that did the heavy lifting, that did the warriors’ tasks, that rucked and continuously competed,” said Sgt. Christopher Puccio, a 742nd MI signals intelligence analyst from Martinsville, Va. “I’m honored to have him as my Soldier.”
When asked if there was anyone he would dedicate his win to, Kupiszewski said: “I’d like to dedicate this win to my sponsor who helped me get to this point. It feels amazing to bring this win to my battalion.”
During his opening remarks, Col. Rhett Cox, commander of the 704th MI, used the inspiring words of Theodore Roosevelt to spur the Soldiers to achieve.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how strong the man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”