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Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Three years ago, Adam Christensen was working as a plumber in Las Vegas when he decided to join the U.S. Army.
He signed up out of a desire to be part of something larger and a dream to become a Special Forces member. Today, the UNLV graduate has risen to the rank of specialist and has been named the U.S. Army Soldier of the Year for winning the Army’s annual Best Warrior competition Nov. 19-22 at Fort Lee, Va.
Christensen, who is a military policeman stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, defeated 12 other soldiers from across the country in a competition of military skills and knowledge to win the honor. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno and Sgt. Maj. Ray Chandler recognized Christensen in a ceremony Wednesday at the Pentagon.
The Sun caught up with Christensen, 29, to ask him about the honor and what it took to be named Soldier of the Year. Here is what he had to say:
What did you go through to train for something like this?
The competition is the full spectrum of what you do in the Army. We’d shoot, practice disassembling and reassembling weapons. We’d practice reacting to chemical content. Just the basic soldier skills over and over and over again, and studying.
What was the competition like? What were your thoughts when you got there?
You go there and you’re competing against everybody, but at the same time, you’re all on the same team. You’re all brothers in arms.
What was the breakdown of the contest?
The first day is the PT test, which is two minutes of push-ups, sit-ups and then a 2-mile run. Then they gave us a map. So you go about a mile and a half between each station, and then you’d have an hour to write an essay on a random topic. After you finished that, you have another map, where you’d go to a range. Then the next area would be chemical contact. Event to event was about 14 miles. The second day was just drill and ceremony. That was difficult because in the line unit, we really lose focus on that stuff.
What were your thoughts when you finished the competition?
I was just relieved that I was able to be done and go back to work … which is ironic because now I’m not at work.
What does it mean to you to win the award?
When I found out, I was kind of shocked. It feels good to know all the training and all the effort that everybody has worked with me and put into it has paid off. At the same time, I can go back to my unit and soldiers and let them know that if they set goals for themselves and work for it, they can get wherever they want to be. It’s just a really great honor.
What did you take away from this competition?
That you can constantly improve yourself, and that’s something I want to bring back to my soldiers. The way I would approach training and the way I would train soldiers is completely different. Beforehand I would take things as they come. Now I look at it more as there’s a specific reason why everything is there.