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Sgt. Stocker Wins Regional Best Warrior 
By Army National Guard Spc. Kristen Stoneback, 104th Public Affairs Detachment 
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Fort Carson, Colo. – “Being a Soldier in the Guard has centered me,” said Sgt. Benjamin Stocker, a Lakewood, Colorado., native and recent winner of the Colorado Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition, in the Soldier category, held at Fort Carson, Colo., April 11 to 14. “I am able to set goals, work through the fear and anxiety, and achieve them.”

Stocker, a CH-47 Chinook crew chief for B Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, joined the Army National Guard in 2010 and has already become a veteran to competition, 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 said one of his greatest influences in life has been his father. He encouraged him 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 dug a tunnel from their backyard to their neighbor’s backyard practicing their Army skills.

“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, he studied and did everything he had to in order to leave Afghanistan as the crew chief he is today, according to Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Guy Morgan, Stocker’s sponsor for the Best Warrior Competition and Standards Instructor for the CH-47 for B Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment. Morgan, who has known Stocker for about four years, added “[Stocker] is everything a Soldier should be in the way he presents himself and attacks challenges. He is forthright and upfront. He wants to do well and he makes you want to do better.”

Stocker’s willpower and influence endured throughout the competition.

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 will 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 Soldier category, while Sgt. Ryan Teter took first place in the noncommissioned officer category.

 

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6/2/2014