Fort Huachuca’s Thunder Mountain Activity Centre hosted a memorable evening dedicated to the outstanding performance given by the 2012 “best of the best” during the Annual Installation Awards Banquet on Jan. 22.
Showing support for the honored guests, more than 200 people attended the banquet. The formal attire, social hour, fine dining, guest speeches, and awards presentation set the tone for an evening filled with recognition and appreciation.
“This is a great opportunity to come together tonight and quite frankly, celebrate some good stuff that is happening on base. One of the things that makes us a strong community are the volunteers that we have, members of the community, and the members of our team here at Fort Huachuca and tonight is our opportunity to recognize them,” said Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander.
Guest speaker of the evening, Major General Alan Lynn, commanding general, United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command said, “The challenges that our Army has faced in the recent years have been met and conquered, not only through the courage and determination of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, but also through the dedication and professionalism of our civilian workforce.
The Civilian of the Year award was given to Kim Rinehart, Range Operations Specialist, Electronic Proving Ground. Rinehart, who saved the US Army millions of dollars by recycling EPG radars thought to be at the end of their lifecycle, said that he is humbled for receiving this award.
“It was a team project. Everybody helped but for some reason, they [US Army] thought that I should be the point,” he said. Rinehart has been at Fort Huachuca for 17 years.
Jennifer Rickert received the Military Spouse of the Year award for her countless hours of volunteer services and dedication to military spouses across the post. Rickert explained that she was nominated by her husband and the actual award came from Military Spouse magazine voting.
“It’s an honor [to receive the award] but it’s also humbling because all that I do for the spouses has [been] taken into affect. Just to be noticed that I am making differences between the lives of spouses is amazing,” Rickert said.
Instructor of the Year, Staff Sgt. Sony Merus, 35F Advance Leaders Course Instructor NCO Academy, was evaluated on three different occasions throughout the year, placing him amongst the best of the best.
Merus said, “I feel great that I won this award. It literally took a whole year to get to this point. I feel that a lot of hard work has paid off.”
The Fort Huachuca Marine of the Year was awarded to Gunnery Sgt. Roger Hightower, Staff NCO in Charge, Defense Strategic Debriefing Center, for his exemplary service as an expert in Human Intelligence operations, instruction and management.
Hightower was accompanied by his wife, daughter, mother and father. He has been at Fort Huachuca for a little over one year.
Air Force NCO of the Year, Staff Sgt. Michael Hamilton, senior morse code instructor, 316th Training Squadron, provided dedicated instruction that resulted in his squadron receiving the Air Education and Training Command Unit of the Year award for 2012.
“I feel good about receiving [Air Force NCO of the Year] of course. You’re winning a yearlong thing going against peers. There are other people that are going up for it and it’s always good to be recognized above your other peers. I just do my job. I work day in and day out. To me, it’s the same thing every day,” Hamilton said.
The Army Reserve Recruiter of the Year award was given to Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Bilbrey, Sierra Vista Recruiting Station, but was not present to accept his award due to a recent surgery and hospitalization.
Staff Sgt. Eduardo Garcia, Sierra Vista Recruiting Station, was selected as the Army Active Duty Recruiter of the Year, due to exceptional performance and zero issues with the Soldiers that he recruited. He has been at the Sierra Vista recruiting station for two years.
When asked how he felt about receiving this award, Garcia stated that he was honored. “I have seen my predecessors before me get [Army Active Duty Recruiter of the Year] and it is pretty humbling,” he said.
The Army Soldier of the Year had to complete an Army physical fitness test, warrior tasks and drills, day and night land-navigation, 12 mile road march, a weapons qualification range, a written exam and essay, an administrative board and a mystery event as part of the competition.
Soldier of the Year, Sgt. Joshua Guzman, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center said, “I feel very pleased. My command, my NCO support channel, NCOs that I have met before me, drill sergeants, everyone that has mentored me taught me to be a great Soldier.” During the intense competition, Guzman was promoted from a specialist to a sergeant.
Army “Best Warrior” NCO of the Year, Sgt. Mark Crosby, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, received his award for his professionalism and competence that set the bar for all NCOs.
Crosby, who has been at Fort Huachuca for two-and-a half years, said, “I feel great about winning this award. It is something that I have worked really hard for. My unit has really helped me out with leadership skills and how to set the example for my Soldiers. I think that it is great.”
Along with the nine individual awards, Colonel Roger Sangvic, acting commander, US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, and Command Sergeant Major Todd Holiday, Military Intelligence Corps command sergeant major, presented five unit retention awards to the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, the 18th Military Police Detachment, the 62nd Army Band, the Noncommissioned Officers Academy and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAICoE for meeting 100 percent of their fiscal 2012 retention objectives.
Along with the respect and admiration that the awardees received, gift bags, donated by over 30 local supporters and donors, were presented.
Closing out the ceremony, Sangvic recognized the entire Fort Huachuca team, from both off post and on post, thanking them individually with a round of applause.