Pfc. Arghel Tacbianan

Pfc. Arghel Tacbianan, representing the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee, listens in on a weapons qualification briefing during the Best Warrior/Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition July 13 at the Fort Lee Range Complex. Tacbianan was one of two competing in the Soldier category of Best Warrior.

Unit: Attached to the 217th Military Police Detachment

Hometown: Lived in Daleville, Ala., since he was 17. Born and raised in the Philippines

Age: 23

Time in service: Nine months

Military occupational specialty: 56M – religious affairs specialist. According to www.goarmy.com, religious affairs specialists “provide much-needed support to the chaplains during missions and everyday activities. Their primary purpose is support for the unit ministry team programs and worship services.”

Pastimes: “I play (video) games and work on computers a lot. I have an associate’s degree in computer science. After this COVID stuff is over, I’m going to work on a bachelor’s (degree) in computer science.”

Talk a bit about yourself: “I’m a very quiet person, to be honest. I have a lot of determination – if I can’t do something, I’ll keep trying it until I achieve it. I’m also a happy person.” 

Talk about your upbringing: “Growing up in the Philippines was quite difficult for me. My family wasn’t that wealthy. We lived in the countryside and didn’t have much. My mother went to the United States and then helped almost everyone in town – all my relatives. When we moved here, I was pretty much in shock. I was homesick for almost two months. It was way different than the Philippines. I noticed there were so many trees here.”

Worst fear: “Losing someone close to me.”

If you won the lottery … “I would buy a house for my mother because she worked a lot, and she’s been there for me the whole time. She was the one who got me here to the United States, along with my brother. I also would treat myself to a new car and a lot of computers.”

The celebrity you’d like to meet: “Bebe Rexha – I like her music a lot, and I think she’s beautiful (laugh).”

The talent you wish you had: “I would definitely love to sing, but I can’t. I would love to play piano as well but never really tried.”

If you could do anything at this very moment, what and where would that be? “I would fly back home to the Philippines and enjoy the beach.”

What would surprise people about you? “Probably my toughness. For example, scoring 544 on the AFCT (during Best Warrior). I‘m tougher than I look.”

One person you admire: “Staff Sgt. (Armin) Sokolovic. He was my trainer, the one who helped prepare me for the CASCOM Best Warrior Competition (Tacbianan was one of 12 participants in last month’s Soldier skills event). Two days after I found out I was going to the competition, I was directed to message Sgt. Sokolovic … I was not ready at all because, at that time, I had only been here three months.  … I was definitely intimidated and didn’t want to do it. I told Sgt. Sokolovic that too, but he gave me a lot of motivation. He told me it would be something I could use in the future. That convinced me.”

Describe a weakness you have:  “When it comes to weaknesses, the first thing I can think of is my language barrier. When I came here (to the United States) seven years ago, I didn’t know a word (of English). It was definitely hard. Two months after arriving, I was in high school and one of my advisors was telling me to take a Spanish class when I didn’t even know how to speak English. It was a struggle, but as I went to school more and watched a lot of movies, I was able to improve my speaking and writing skills.”

One life-changing moment or event: “Joining the military. It was a game-changer for me. When I was in Alabama, I wasn’t really doing much. Yeah, I was in school, I played video games a lot, and that’s basically all I did. When I enlisted, I started working out, running a lot, and I studied even more and learned about the country and the military.”

Why you enlisted in the Army: “I wanted to travel, that’s one thing. Then, I wanted to continue the journey of my stepfather (a veteran). The Army is good for me. I love it.”   

Why you chose this MOS: “I had three choices, and the one that interested me most is 56-Mike because I’m a very religious person.”

Best thing about the Army: “The physical training.  It not only helps develop you physically, but it prepares you mentally for the rest of the day.” 

Worst thing: “The food (in the dining facility) could be better.”

Where you see yourself in five years: “I see myself getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and I see myself as a sergeant, and later, as a commissioned officer.”