Living the life of a paratrooper is one of many rewards and responsibilities. The high operational tempo and long hours test the character of these elite Soldiers who train to deploy at a moment’s notice.
For one paratrooper, this was something he wanted to do since the age of seven.
Staff Sgt. Cory M. Schmidt, a sniper section leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said that he has always wanted to be an airborne Ranger.
Enlisting in the Army as an Infantryman in June of 2008 was the beginning of living his dream, he said.
Upon graduating basic training and advance individual training, Schmidt found himself assigned to 1st Bn., 505th PIR.
“I showed up to 1 Panther as a non-airborne infantryman,” said Schmidt. “ Within a short amount of time I found myself deployed to Iraq.”
After his deployment to Iraq in 2009, Schmidt fulfilled his dream when he attended the Army’s Ranger and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga.
“I am very proud of my son and his accomplishments,” said Lilly Schmidt, Cory Schmidt’s mother. “Cory has pursued his dream and as you can see his accomplishments to this day are outstanding.”
When Schmidt graduated from Ranger and Airborne Schools, he found himself yet again, getting ready for a deployment -— this time to Afghanistan.
When he came back to Fort Bragg from Afghanistan, Schmidt took time to visit his mother.
“Even though my son is from a small town, he is the most dedicated, loving son ever. His commitment to the Army is his life and he serves it proudly,” said Lilly.
During the Spring, Schmidt found himself competing for the 3rd BCT’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year board.
“I got told on a Friday that I was competing in the board on Monday,” said Schmidt. “I studied all weekend.”
Competing against several NCOs from across the brigade, Schmidt won the board. Schmidt said that he had never studied for or competed in any type of board before that day and he was surprised he won.
“I stayed flexible and did a lot of research on boards,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt was on his way to competing against paratroopers from across the 82nd Abn. Div.
When he won that competition, his full time job became to study and train for the XVIII Airborne Corps competition.
“I used apps on my phone to study for the board,” said Schmidt. “I studied for at least eight hours each day.”
When he competed in the XVIII Abn. Corps board, he won that competition too.
“It’s comforting to me to know that every time I compete it’s the best that each of these units has to offer,” said Schmidt.
United States Army Forces Command consists of more than 750,000 Active Army, Reserves, and Army National Guard Soldiers.
A few weeks later, Schmidt was about to compete in his toughest competition to date.
“The FORSCOM competition has been the hardest so far because the competitors are getting better,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt competed with the dignity and respect that was expected from a paratrooper assigned to 3rd Brigade.
His fierce competitor spirit allowed him to win the FORSCOM board by one point.
“Know that you’re going up against the best in other units. Don’t underestimate your opponents. If you feel you’ve trained enough…you haven’t,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt continues to study for the next step of his journey, which is the Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va.
“If I won the Army Best Warrior Competition, I would take all of my experiences from competing against the best and find ways to bring that experience back to my Soldiers, said Schmidt. “A victory to me, would mean that 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, has just set the standard for the entire Army,” he added.
Whether it’s that seven-year-old child watching “Saving Private Ryan” or the Staff Sgt. that won the FORSCOM competition, Schmidt’s mother said she is very proud of whom her son had become.
“He has become a fine young Soldier. One who doesn’t like to toot his own horn, but yet proud to say he serves in the U.S. Army,” said Lilly.