From small town to big time

by Spc. Adrienne Killingsworth
18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs

When Spc. Daniel Micek competes at the Department of the Army-level Soldier of the Year competition this month at Fort Lee, win or lose it will be the culmination of an impressive journey.

Specialist Micek, a military police Soldier with the 615th Military Police Company, 709th MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, was named the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army Soldier of the Year at a ceremony Aug. 27 at the Village Pavilion on Patrick Henry Village. Specialist Micek’s journey to the competition began almost a year ago, when he won his company’s Soldier of the Month board.

But, if you look back far enough, the true journey began in Silver Creek, Neb., Specialist Micek’s hometown. It was there that Specialist Micek said he decided he wasn’t meeting his potential.

“I just wanted to do something with my life – make something of myself. I wanted to do something that people don’t normally get to do,” he said.

To meet that end, Specialist Micek enlisted as an MP in the Army. With just over two years in service, it is safe to say that Specialist Micek has accomplished more than most and earned the opportunity to do things that many people don’t get to do.

As an MP, Specialist Micek pushed himself to do more and be more. After his success at the company-level boards, Specialist Micek tried out for the company’s warfighter team. It was there that he got the push he said he needed to reach his current level of success.

The warfighter team trains heavily for the annual Warfighter Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“Training six days a week on warrior tasks and drills, obstacle courses, Army knowledge and physical training is not for the weak-hearted,” he said.

But with Specialist Micek’s success at the boards, his status as a warfighter was postponed and he was able to only train with them under the affectionate title of “boardfighter.” The team he trained with, Specialist Micek said, was a big reason he has been able to do so well.

With every competition, the requirements and the intensity increased, and his teammates and his sponsor, Staff Sgt. Jason Nepa, pushed him and motivated him through it all, he said.

“The USAREUR (competition) was pretty intense,” Specialist Micek said, noting that at one point, “they didn’t give us a standard because they wanted to see what our own personal standard was.”

As the winner of the USAREUR competition, it is clear that Specialist Micek holds himself to a high personal standard and has the drive and the skills to compete at the Army level. But Specialist Micek sees his title as something more than an individual accomplishment

“I really don’t feel like I’m the best Soldier in USAREUR,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of people downrange fighting the war. For me, I’m just trying to represent them.”

Once the DA competition ends, Specialist Micek will continue on to the next chapter in his career – going downrange and testing those warrior skills firsthand. Specialist Micek has extended his tour with the 615th MP Co. so he can accompany them on their deployment next year.

As Specialist Micek moves on to the final level of competition while looking back at the past year, he said the entire process that has led him to where he is now has been a blessing and a truly rewarding adventure.

“Personally, it’s a really good experience,” he said. “I mean, I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Everybody is really proud of me – the warfighter team, the company, my family back home and friends.”

And true to his modest nature, Specialist Micek seems to give more credit to those around him than he does to himself – his warfighter team especially. To hear him speak of the attention he gets, whether he believes he deserves it or not, can be surprising to him at times.

“Honestly,” he said, “I’m kind of humbled by it.”