By Sgt. Ian Vega-Cerezo

For some, winning the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division’s Best Warrior Competition is an honor in itself. For Warrant Officer James Benecke it was the stepping stone to an even greater opportunity.

Benecke and the 2ID/RUCD Best Warriors represented the U.S. Army and demonstrated their commitment to the nation during the 2019 NFL Draft Pick on ESPN at the Camp Humphreys USO on April 26.

Benecke, a Brooklyn native, had the privilege of announcing the New York Giants’ 17th draft pick, Dexter Lawrence live on national television. Lawrence, a defensive tackle, is a Wake Forest, North Carolina native.

“It’s definitely not what I expected coming out here to Korea,” Benecke said.

“I arrived as a new warrant officer. I was a little nervous stepping into a job, ready to learn and soak it all in, and the next thing you know, I’m being thrown into the spotlight.”

As a Best Warrior contender, Benecke competed alongside Warriors of all ranks and backgrounds, and placed first in the Warrant Officer category.

“Chief’s a great guy, well-spoken, he knows what he’s doing, and on top of that he has a wealth of knowledge behind him,” said 1st Lt. Justice Van Ness. “Also, he’s physically a monster, so he’s the guy I wanted to catch up to.”

Benecke encourages his fellow Warriors to pursue and undertake whatever challenges come their way.

“Raise your hand, give it a shot,” Benecke said. “When your organization picks you to compete, they’re not just throwing you out to the wolves. They’re going to make sure you have the resources and time to train. They’re going to make sure you’re the best you can be to represent the battalion, the brigade and division as you move forward.”

-This story originally appeared on It has been edited for