Luncheon honors top enlisted Soldiers
June 20, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla.-- For Sill's best enlisted Soldiers were honored at a luncheon for their quarterly and annual awards June 13 at the Patriot Club.
Platoon Sergeant (Sgt. 1st Class) Learthur Williams, was named the 2012 Fort Sill Platoon Sergeant of the Year; and Drill Sergeant (Sgt.) Queen Ross and Spc. David Sumpter took quarterly honors for NCO and Soldier of the Quarter respectively.
"Today is a great day for the enlisted ranks we arrived early for a post NCO run and now sit together to recognize these accomplishments," said Command Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Dominguez, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade CSM, the luncheon's keynote speaker.
Dominguez gave an insightful and sometimes humorous message about the anatomy of a backbone, drawing parallels to the NCO being the Backbone of the Army. He said there are many bones from the base of the spine to the neck, and each bone represents a level of leadership on which these troops must overcome to win their title. Furthering this idea, Dominguez said each nerve that connects with the spine represents a path to reach Army level awards and to boards where the best Soldiers compete.
"Every organization in Army wants to have NCOs and Soldiers of the quarter and year," he said.
Competitions motivate Soldiers to improve their knowledge of soldiering, desire to continue to train and everyday get better.
"Those who perform will rise to the top," said Dominguez.
The ADA CSM focused on the tail bone and how that lowest level compares to squad leaders and platoon sergeants who cultivate and gather their best Soldiers for unit-level awards. They do this through competitions in physical fitness, weapons qualification, land navigation and study time with peers and leaders. He said the best don't stop there, they work at home with their spouses or friends until they go to sleep. Having achieved this most basic award sets the baseline for many steps to climb ascending through their battalions and brigades.
"Here we are recognizing some outstanding troops at installation level, and what put these individuals ahead of other competitors are the fundamentals and their drive," he said.
The command sergeant major then congratulated the winners and encouraged them to continue their outstanding service.
Following the buffett lunch, Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, directed the audience to look upon the three enlisted Soldiers as examples of what excellence looks like.
"You've got to be proud of yourselves you've come from the best of the best," said the general.
He alluded to Dominguez's speech and told Ross and Sumpter as quarterly award winners they would each get the opportunity to "work further up your spine and see how far you can get."
McDonald emphasized the professionalism of Soldiers and how competitions breed success for the service.
"People in the Army like to compete, and they also like to win," he said. "That increases our professionalism."
McDonald and Command Sgt. Maj. Dwight Morrisey, FCoE and Fort Sill CSM, then congratulated each winner and pinned medals on them leading what would become a king's ransom of plaques, statues and military coins along with gifts from area business leaders.
Speaking of Williams, a platoon sergeant with B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery, Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence MacDonald, 3-6th ADA CSM, called him a force multiplier and one of his go-to guys.
"I lean on him to be a voice to some of the Soldiers I don't get to talk to on a daily basis," he said. "Sergeant First Class Williams puts in a lot of hours, and his efforts are always appreciated."
With more than three years experience as a platoon sergeant for Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command, Williams said he was happy to win the competition. He added the other platoon sergeants did an outstanding job as well.
"I'm very goal motivated, and when you know what your goals are you'll continue to progress toward them until you reach them," he said.
Throughout his tenure as a platoon sergeant Williams has helped refine the professional development of 25-120 Soldiers serving in his platoons. He said he enjoys the opportunities to take care of Soldiers and said this duty fits right in with his goal to be a CSM or sergeant major.
"I know that comes with taking care of Soldiers you take care of Soldiers, and they'll take care of you every great leader has told me that," said Williams, who said MacDonald's guidance and mentoring have meant a great deal to him.
1st Sgt. Kelvin Ingram, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery, called Ross a people person who's also a strong professional.
"Drill sergeant Ross exudes confidence and competence. She knows how to communicate with her Soldiers and earns their respect everyday," he said.
Ross said she wants to be a great leader and NCO, and for Soldiers to emulate the things she did to get to this point.
"I want them to know it's not easy, but that it's possible, because hard work and dedication lead to success," she said. "That's something I've always taught my Soldiers, and now they see that it works."
In charge of up to 55 Soldiers, Ross said she didn't know how rewarding being a drill sergeant would be when she took on the position.
"I just thought it was going to be long days and nights, which it is, but, even though I'm tired, I'm happy." she said. "I don't think I ever really knew the influence I could have on someone until I took on this position, and I enjoy it."
Though Sumpter's career is barely two years old, he's already impacting those around him. Sgt. Todd Williams, who introduced him, said Sumpter is one of those guys it's a pleasure to have work for him.
"The craving Specialist Sumpter has to expand his Army knowledge and his drive to excel are two things that impressed me about him from the start," said Williams. "He's not the kind of person to sit around and let things to happen, he wants to make things happen."
Based on what drives him as a Soldier, Sumpter could well carry the banner for McDonald's talk about competition and winning.
"I hate losing, I'm not a fan of losing at all," said the Soldier with honor graduate honors from both Basic Combat and Advanced Individual training. "I like to challenge myself and push myself at every opportunity.
"I'm not sure what exactly is down the road, though it definitely involves the Army; I love the Army and enjoy coming to work everyday."