Army Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman, a member of American Legion Post 270 in Venango, Neb., is one of two winners for the Army's 2009 Best Warrior Competition in Fort Lee, Va. He was also named Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
The other "Best Warrior" is Spc. Clancey Henderson, who was also named Soldier of the Year. The awards were made Oct. 5 after a grueling six-day competition that included weapons firing, daytime and nighttime navigation, and a written exam and essay.
Beckman has been a member of Post 270 for 14 years and a Sons of The American Legion member for 21 years. His father, Dwight, served in the Army and is also a member of Post 270. He now farms land about five miles north of Venango, along the Nebraska-Colorado border.
Post 270 Commander Randy Busch has been a friend of the Beckman family for years. "I watched Aaron grow up and pretty much became a second father. He grew into an outstanding young man and his leadership in the Army – his advancements – really show his character."
An Army veteran himself, Busch said he first learned of Beckman's "Best Warrior" achievement from a local radio station. "I was very proud of him when I heard that and started e-mailing all my veteran friends so they could share the pride of The American Legion in a small community."
Bush said that Venango has a population of about 200, and the Legion post has 65 members.