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NEWS | March 13, 2024

Illinois National Guard Soldier Selected as Soldier Leader of the Cycle during Basic Military Training

One of the Illinois Army National Guard’s newest Soldiers not only completed Basic Military Training (BMT) at 39, but also earned the Soldier Leader of the Cycle award for their training company in the process.

Spc. Christina Fiorentino, of Chicago, who graduated from BMT Feb. 8 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was selected by the Drill Sergeants from among the approximately 250 Soldiers in the training company.

“I was unaware there was a Soldier Leader of the Cycle award,” Fiorentino said. “Not to sound cliché, but I think everything happens for a reason. I didn’t take me long to realize my purpose in basic training was to not only challenge myself, but to share my life experiences which could potentially teach and guide young minds who are also the future of the Army.”

While many people enlist in the military in their early 20s, Fiorentino was 38 when she enlisted in August, turning 39 while in training.

“I enlisted not only to be a part of something that is bigger than myself, but to also challenge myself mentally, emotionally and physically,” she said. “I believe that learning skills or performing tasks which place you in uncomfortable situations forces you to continuously adapt, evolve and ultimately helps you to become a better all-around individual.”

Fiorentino, assigned to the 433rd Signal Company, was surprised being selected for the award.

“I was performing my everyday tasks incorporating the Army Values of empathy, discipline and the warrior ethos,” she said. “I performed my duties everyday completely unaware of this award.”

Fiorentino has aspirations to attend the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School in October, and said the award will help with those future goals.

“I think about earning this award daily as I prepare for Officer Candidate School,” Fiorentino said.

Fiorentino, a traditional member of the Illinois Army National Guard, is a Chicago police officer in her civilian career.