FORT BENNING, GA — Sgt. Matthew Hagensick, 34, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, is the U.S. Army’s Soldier of the Year.
Hagensick, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, was born in Misawa, Japan and grew-up in Hahn, Germany, while his parents served in Cryptologic Intelligence with the U.S. Air Force.
Hagensick credits his parents and Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Dan Dailey, for influencing his Army career.
“I always wanted to serve in the Army from a young age, especially the special operations community,” Hagensick said. “After attending Edgewood College, in Madison, and receiving quite a number of tattoos, I was unfortunately kept from enlisting for about a decade until Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Dailey, came in and changed the tattoo policy.”
Hagensick grew up in a military family and his parents had a tremendous impact on his decision to join the Army.
“I wanted to do something a little bit more than my brothers and sisters and my parents always pushed me to be the best version of myself I possibly could,” Hagensick said. “The 75th Ranger Regiment stood out to me as that elite force where you can truly push yourself.”
“Growing up in a military family, aspiring to serve my country as well; my family was very supportive along the way, especially my mother after my father passed away.”
Hagensick enlisted in the U.S. Army, September 2015, following One Station Unit Training, Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1, all at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment as a Rifleman.
He is currently serving as an anti-tank team leader with Charlie Company.
Hagensick graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger Course in 2017.
“The U.S. Army Ranger course was an interesting experience. A lot of sleep and food deprivation; it taught you a lot about what you could live with and without,” Hagensick said. “It help me discover my short comings as a leader and an individual.”
“I also learned how to better motivate individuals when they have ultimately nothing to look forward too for a long period of time,” he added.
The road to the Army’s Best Warrior Competition started about a year ago when Hagensick won Soldier of the Month for 3rd Ranger Battalion, later that year, he went on to compete and win the Soldier of the Year board.
Hagensick competed in the 75th Ranger Regiment’s week-long competition for Soldier of the Year in April 2018 and went on to represent the Regiment at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Best Warrior Competition.
“By participating in the U.S. Army Best Warrior Competition, I learned several things that I have not focused on during my training as far as the basics are concerned,” Hagensick said. “It really humbled me, seeing Soldiers much younger than me, that were out there who are very proficient in basic Soldier tasks that I may not have focused enough on in the last two years.”
Hagensick brought back to his team, squad and platoon, the knowledge he gained competing in to better the organization as a whole.
The Rangers who serve within the 75th Ranger Regiment, live and die by the Ranger Creed.
“Living the Ranger Creed means everything to a Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment,” Hagensick said. “It embodies everything that we stand for, everything that we do and how we conduct ourselves both within the organization and outside of the organization when we are perceived by others.”
Hagensick is older than most of his peers and has some words of wisdom for the next generation of Soldiers.
“The best piece of advice I can give to someone younger than me is that nothing comes free,” Hagensick said. “Nobody is entitled to anything. Especially in a selective organization such as the 75th Ranger Regiment.”
“Hard work is what will get you to where you want to be and there are no short cuts to hard work. If you put in the work you will accomplish great things,” he said.
The 75th Ranger Regiment is the Army’s premier special operations raid force. The Army maintains the Regiment at a high level of combat readiness. Typical Ranger missions include airfield seizures, direct action raids and urban combat.
“If you’re competitive, you like to push yourself, you want a little bit better than the people to your left and right, you want cooler equipment, you want to get paid a little bit more, you want a higher op-tempo and deploy more often, the 75th Ranger Regiment is where you want to be,” Hagensick said.