FORT CARSON, Colo. – “Being a Soldier in the Guard has centered me,” said Army Sgt. Benjamin Stocker, a Lakewood, Colorado, native. “I am able to set goals, work through the fear and anxiety, and achieve them.”
Stocker earned the top spot in the Soldier category in the Colorado Army National Guard’s Best Warrior competition held at Fort Carson, Colorado, April 11 to 14.
A CH-47 Chinook crew chief for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, Stocker joined the Army National Guard in 2010 and has already become a veteran competitor, having placed in the 89th Troop Command Soldier of the Year competition in 2010.
He said he attributes much of his success to his diligent preparation, determination and the encouragement and influence of his family. Stocker noted that one of his greatest influences in life has been his father, who encouraged the Soldier to excel in all he does and strive to be the best he can be.
“My dad has seven college degrees,” Stocker said. “He has taught me you can do anything you put your mind to. He’s now 65 and just won an election in Jefferson County as a public official.”
Stocker said his two older brothers were also influential in his Army career. Being the youngest, he watched both brothers join the Army. One was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist and deployed to Afghanistan three times, and the other was a CH-47 Chinook crew chief.
Stocker recalled how when they were younger, they practices their Army skills as they dug a tunnel from their backyard to their neighbor’s backyard.
“It was a pretty elaborate tunnel,” Stocker said. “I remember the only reason the neighbor found out was his grass died where the tunnel was. The neighbor put two and two together when he looked over the fence, and noticed a big hole and us kids throwing dirt over it.”
Stocker’s childhood sense of adventure has evolved into the raw determination and grit he bears today as a Soldier.
Having deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 as a door gunner, Stocker studied and did everything he had to in order to leave Afghanistan as the crew chief he is today, said Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Guy Morgan, Stocker’s sponsor for the Best Warrior competition and standards instructor.
“(Stocker) is everything a Soldier should be in the way he presents himself and attacks challenges,” said Morgan, who’s known Stocker for about four years. “He’s forthright and upfront. He wants to do well and he makes you want to do better.”
Stocker’s willpower and influence endured throughout the contest.
Despite being sick during the Best Warrior competition, Stocker maintained a defiantly solid demeanor. He said if he can stand up, put his boots on and walk, he can move through the day. He said he’ll be going until he can’t move.
“We grew up doing mountaineering and climbing 14ers,” Stocker said. “My dad always told me when I was little, ‘The mountain looks really far away, right? It looks like it’s too far to reach. Well, if you just look down at your feet and take it one step at a time, eventually you will be there.’”
Stocker took first place in the Colorado and Region 7 Soldier category, while Sgt. Ryan Teter took first place in the noncommissioned officer category of the Colorado Best Warrior competition.