Jemison native competes in Best Warrior
For Jemison native Joshua Skelton, joining the military was a life changing decision and one he has enjoyed since 2004.
“Being a part of our military and having the honor to serve our country is one of the greatest things I will ever accomplish in my life,” Skelton said. “It has molded me into the person I am today and without it, I would be lost.”
Staff Sgt. Skelton, 29, competed June 23-28 in the 2013 Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition held at Fort McCoy, Wis.
Skelton, along with 38 soldiers from across the United States, spent the week competing in physical fitness tests, a written examination on general military topics, first aid and hand-to-hand combat as well as other courses.
The top competitors from the Army Reserves and the Non Commissioned Officers (NCO) were selected to compete against winners from the major Army commands in October in Fort Lee, Va., where 52 soldiers compete.
Although Skelton did not place in the top two, the competition for him was more about spending time learning new soldiering skills as well as meeting other people in the military.
“This competition is crazy because it tests you on any situation a soldier might encounter,” Skelton said. “This competition opens up a new network for soldiers who share the same goals and it is neat to be able to network with other soldiers.”
Skelton said one of the hardest things of the competition was the non-stop schedule of waking up at 4 a.m. and competing until 10 p.m.
“We are pretty much full throttle throughout each day which is tough because you have really long days,” Skelton said. “One day we woke up at midnight and didn’t go to sleep until 10 p.m. the next day.”
Skelton grew up in Jemison and graduated from Jemison High School in 2003. He joined the military shortly after graduation.
“After high school, I realized that I was not headed in a good direction,” Skelton said. “A lot of my friends were getting into trouble. One day I was talking to my mother about everything going on in my life and she convinced me to speak with an Army recruiter. I heard what the Army had to offer and decided to join.”
Skelton served two deployments in Iraq, one for 12 months and one for 15 months and has been an Army Reservist for nine years.
While in the Army Reserves, Skelton was able to graduate from the University of Montevallo with a bachelor’s degree in business administration specializing in accounting and he is now pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from UAB.
Skelton is also hoping to become a sergeant major in the military.
Some of the things Skelton said he realized after having spent time being deployed is life is fragile.
“Life is valuable,” Skelton said. “Too many soldiers sacrifice their lives defending what we as citizens take advantage of on a daily basis.”
Skelton said some of the simple things such as hot water or sustainable electricity became more valuable to him after he joined the military.
“I have seen the good things that our military can do and recognize how vital it is to our lifestyle,” Skelton said. “To be able to be a part of something that great gives me a sense of accomplishment that is like no other.”
When Skelton returns to Alabama from the Best Warrior Competition he will move to Hoover with his girlfriend and welcome his first child in December.
“I’m pretty sure becoming a parent will probably be almost as stressful as competing in the Best Warrior Competition,” Skelton said. “It will be exciting though.”