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USO names Fort Hood soldier as Army Service Member of The Year

Posted at 10:17 PM, Nov 29, 2022

FORT HOOD, Texas — Everyday U.S. service members do extraordinary things to defend the nation and once a year the USO honors one of them from each branch of the military.

This year’s Army Service Member of The Year is Sergeant Erick Ceja and his commander wasn’t surprised to hear it.

”He is an outstanding soldier,” said COL BJ Bennett, Commander of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. “He does what noncommissioned officers are supposed to do. They are the backbone of the United States Army.”

It’s soldiers like him that inspired the United Service Organizations or, USO, to honor someone as the Army Service Member of The Year.

”The USO has a program in which service member’s units can put a package in a nominate them for their acts of valor and heroism, to be selected as the USO Soldier of The Year,” said Heather Krauss, executive director of USO San Antonio and Fort Hood.

SGT Ceja was chosen because of the courage and valor he displayed while deployed overseas.

”It was on the 24th of January in the CENTCOM AOR where he performed actions as a member of a Patriot crew,” said COL Bennett. “Executing and neutralizing an incoming Tactical Ballistic Missile and ultimately defending the asset and saving lives.”

With his unit and several members of his family in attendance, SGT Ceja humbly accepted the award.

”A lot of emotions, this is a big achievement,” said SGT Ceja. “I just still can’t process it because it’s something big you know.”

A huge honor that he says is not just for him.

”We did it as a team,” said SGT Ceja. “I’m not an individual and I love my team. Alpha Battery, we leave a legacy.”

SGT Ceja led a team that took down an incoming missile with the use of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system and the first to do so in nearly two decades.