Sergeant First Class Alex Berger began his path to wearing the Green Beret of the 10th Special Forces Group by joining the Army band.
“I played music my whole life. My pastor said I should try out. I was in the Army band for about six months to a year until I decided it really wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something a little more Army.” In 2012, Alex put down his instruments and entered the grueling first phase of the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course.
Two thirds of candidates drop out in the initial 24-week assessment and selection phase. Those who survive the first harrowing nights in the North Carolina forest then embark on two years of training in every conceivable combat discipline: unconventional warfare, land navigation, sniping, free-fall parachuting, combat diving, communications, computers, explosives, survival and evasion, languages—the complete list is staggering.
Through it all, Alex’s faith drove him to excel: “Around 16 or 17, I realized I could base my life on what I wanted to do or on what I think Christ wants me to do. I try to use that as a basis for why I do what I do.”
Let’s not sanitize what Alex does. Of his three deployments, he can only say, “I’ve been to the Middle East, doing SF stuff.” Translation: He’s spent time deep in the maw of the worst places on Earth, where horrors outnumber random acts of kindness by a wide margin. Along with his beret, Uncle Sam gave Alex a season pass to the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Skeptics may question how Alex reconciles his job with his faith, but when your job is battling evil, how would you survive without it? “God’s been faithful through all this madness,” he says. “That gives me extra motivation to push hard and give everything I have in whatever I’m doing.”
In 2020, Alex was home in Colorado Springs, spending time with his three kids and his wife, who is expecting a fourth, when a teammate urged him to enter the Army’s annual “Best Warrior” contest. He threw himself into the fray with physical tasks, skills assessments, tests of his knowledge and his favorite challenge: shooting.
He first topped his teammates; Then, in competition against all of the 10th Group, he won again. Finally, in October 2020, he bested the service’s best to be named the Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
Congratulations, SFC Alex Berger, for being the best of the best, and thank you for standing for us in those places where angels fear to tread.