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Oak Creek Man Named 'Wisconsin Soldier Of The Year'

After a grueling three-day competition in the sun, snow, and rain, Spc. Brandon Byrne became the Wisconsin soldier of the year.

An Oak Creek man was named Wisconsin soldier of the year on Sunday after he competed in the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s three-day state competition.

Spc. Brandon Byrne, a soldier with Company B, 257th Brigade Support Battalion, won the honor after competing against a group of five soldiers and eight noncommissioned officers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard at a regional competition in May.

Soldiers should be prepared for anything when training for a competition like this, Byrne said in a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs.

"The best way to prepare for something like this is to work both your body and mind," Byrne said. "Work out, study hard, but most of all get in the mindset of never giving up. That's what kept me going."

Through rain, snow, and sun, the three-day competition included a physical fitness test, a combative tournament, pistol and rifle qualification, day and night land navigation, a written exam, warrior tasks, an obstacle course, and an appearance before a uniform inspection board. The competition concluded with a 10-mile road march.

Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, sergeant major of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, held an award ceremony for all of the competitors, sponsors and support staff.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of each and every one of you that sit before me here today," Shields said. "The effort put forth by everyone was phenomenal, and it takes a special kind of soldier to be able to raise their hand to volunteer for an event like this."

Sgt. Edward Schmitt of Lake Mills, with the 54th Civil Support Team, 64th Troop Command, won state Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Because of their accomplishments, Byrne and Schmitt have a slot reserved at the Army's air assault school, provided they meet the pre-requisites. The Milwaukee Brewers baseball team also offered to host each winner as an honored guest at one of their home games. They will throw-out the first pitch, have front row tickets for them and their families and will be featured throughout the game.

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