Sgt. Jason Manella has scored a victory for underdogs, overcoming brain injuries suffered in combat to win a rigorous Army competition and boosting morale for an oft-maligned part of the military: reservists.
Manella, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was named the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year after becoming the first noncommissioned reservist to win the Best Warrior Competition, an annual contest measuring physical and mental strength.
Manella’s historic win in Virginia two weeks ago was as unlikely as it was inspirational. Little more than a year ago, he was in a hospital, wondering if he’d ever fully recover from his injuries.
“My dad and the Army taught me to never give up,” said Manella, who grew up in Fremont and now lives in Hayward. “That sounds like some ’80s ‘Rocky’ movie, but once you do it, you realize that, as long as you have heart, you can do anything.”
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