Sgt. Jacob Conner, an Army musician assigned to the 4th Infantry Division Band has been passionate about music since his adolescence.
The 29-year-old, Tucson, Ariz., native, is a recipient of the Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award; a prestigious award that acknowledges enlisted musicians in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
It takes more than being an outstanding musician to win the award.
The National Band Association goes through numerous recommendations before making their selections, Conner said. The recipient must be proficient in both music and leadership skills.
As soon as Conner arrived on Fort Carso, Colo., and began playing with the band, his motivation and hard work caught the attention of Sgt. First Class Philip Kim, an Army musician assigned to the 4th Infantry Division Band and it was Kim who nominated Conner for the award.
“There are so many instances where Sgt. Conner performed in a tremendous manner,” said Kim. “The one which probably looks best on paper was Conner’s distinguished Honor Graduate (award) during his Advanced Leadership Course.”
Kim was impressed by Conner’s determination to grow as a musician, but even more as a Soldier.
“Sgt. Conner continually works to master his craft and advance his professional career by diligently pursuing as many opportunities as possible, with no supervision or encouragement,” Kim said.
When Conner received the award in December of 2019, he was honored.
“I was proud,” Conner said. “The first thing I did was ask around to see who else received the award in the previous years. A couple of Soldiers in my unit did, and they were all Soldiers that I admired and thought were great leaders.”
Now with a prestigious music award under his belt, Conner still continues to push his limits as a Soldier and a musician.
“I am in a field of professional musicians who operate in a military culture,” Conner said. “Winning this award was encouraging, and I plan to use it as fuel to become a better musician, leader, and Soldier.”