It's no surprise Staff Sgt. Alex Conrad was one of the elite. He had someone there to challenge him most of his life while growing up in Chandler.
"I always followed suit with him. We were always very competitive. Whatever he did, I had to do and I had to beat him at it," his brother Jacob recalled fondly at the Arizona National Guard in Phoenix.
Jacob, now a Phoenix police officer, also joined the Army. But it was Alex that was promoted to Sergeant first.
"I went to the board to get promoted to sergeant too," Jacob Conrad said. "He just barely beat me and got promoted to staff sergeant, but he was also very excited for me too."
But there was one area where Alex could easily one-up his younger brother.
"He told me I need to go airborne and I told him no way. He was much braver and more outgoing than I was," Jacob said.
And that bravery is apparent in his military photo. His chest is decorated with medals. It was that same bravery that took him on three deployments in 8 years.
It was after his second stint in Afghanistan, he really had his eye on special ops.
"That was his main goal. I remember he trained really hard. He did ruck marches and that's what he was going for," Jacob said.
The most recent deployment would be his last. Staff Sgt. Alex Conrad was killed June 8 in Somalia during a firefight with insurgents. His remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Tuesday.
"He loved his family, friends, country and the Army," his brother said. "Alex would want to be remembered as a hero, which is what he was."
His family asked that anyone interested in making a donation in Alex's memory, send it to the Pat Tillman Foundation or the Fraternal Order of Police.