Mid-Mo soldier loses 107 pounds to become Soldier of the Year
FORT LEONARD WOOD - Spc. Joshua Roberts has won the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command Soldier of the Year award after a two-year journey.
Roberts weighed around 285 pounds in high school, and gained about 30 more pounds during his football career at Rochester Community and Technical College in Minnesota before deciding he wanted to do something more meaningful.
"I tried going to a [U.S. Army] recruiter. The recruiter told me I was too big, and I would have to lose a lot of weight," said Roberts.
Roberts said it wasn't just the recruiter that didn't take him seriously - his friends and coworkers also said he'd never make it in the military. They didn't think he could handle the early hours and the massive lifestyle changes, but Roberts was determined.
"I wanted to prove them wrong," he said. "Since then I dropped 107 pounds, and here I am today," Roberts said, referring to his TRADOC Soldier of the Year award.
It took Roberts almost a full year to lose enough weight to even join the Army.
"I ate healthy. I used to eat whatever I wanted. I decided enough is enough. I stopped drinking pop; I stopped going out for fast food. I started eating less, and I did a lot of running. [The weight] slowly started shedding off," Roberts said.
Roberts' platoon sergeant, Sergeant 1st Class Kyle Riley, became the driving force behind him going to boards and competing for company, battalion and brigade Solider of the Quarter, Month and Year.
He finished training at Fort Leonard Wood in August 2012 and after arriving at his new unit, the 988th Military Police Company, 92nd MP Battalion, he went to the Solider of the Month board, where he lost several times.
Due to Riley's encouragement, Roberts did not give up.
"My platoon sergeant talked me into going one more time. He told me, ‘You know what you're talking about; you are like the total soldier concept. I need you to keep going to these boards. You can do it,'" Roberts said.
At the TRADOC competition, he said he felt he was "really doing well" - which turned out to be an understatement.
Roberts won battalion, brigade, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, and TRADOC Soldier of the Year. Many of the competing soldiers called Roberts, "Soldier of the Universe," but Roberts kept focused throughout the competition.
"We had a 12 mile ruck [march]," he said. "Only three of us finished the whole thing. I was the only soldier to finish, and the other two were sergeants first class, who were Ranger qualified," he added. "I felt great and confident throughout the whole competition."
The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence command sergeant major said Roberts' concentration and preparation were evident.
"Spc. Roberts had an attitude of preparedness and absolutely impressed me throughout the entire competition. He was in first in most, if not all events, and he never let it go to his head," said Command Sgt. Maj. Terrence Murphy. "He was a team player until the end. The young trooper is a shining example of what ‘right' looks like."
Murphy was very proud of Roberts winning TRADOC Soldier of the Year.
"He worked extremely hard for this and represented Fort Leonard Wood and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence in a grand fashion," Murphy said. "He also represented himself extremely well as a soldier, showing not only himself that he has what it takes to be the best, but [also] anyone who sees him."
Roberts will be representing TRADOC at the U.S. Army's Best Warrior Competition in October at Fort Lee in Virginia.