Chamber Military Luncheon awards
May 22, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Winners of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), Soldier and Family of the Year were honored during the 38th Annual Military Appreciation Luncheon, at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood May 15.
Staff Sgt. Thomas Walker of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), Sgt. Taylor Sykes of the 22d Chemical Battalion (TE) and the Rousayne Family all received accolades and praise from the community.
"I want to personally congratulate all those people who are receiving these awards," said guest speaker retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Mike Hayes, director of the Office of Military Affairs and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "And we probably by almost any standard or measurement have the finest military we've ever had today. To stand out amongst your peers [and] be acknowledged as the best of the best is really exceptional."
As award winners, both Walker and Sykes will represent APG during programs and events throughout the coming year.
Both said they were surprised at their selection.
"I was surprised because I wasn't sure how my performance was, but I'm pretty happy about it," Walker said. "I am proud to represent ATEC as [APG] NCO of the Year."
Walker has served the nation for 11 years, with deployments to Afghanistan and a host of other stateside assignments and is currently serving as the senior human resources G-1 NCO for ATEC. He is the recipient of numerous awards and citations, including the Army Commendation Medal.
This is the second year in a row that an ATEC NCO has received top honors.
Sykes said he understands the commitment that he now has to serve and represent his command and the APG community.
"I was a little overwhelmed because I know the responsibility that comes with it," he said. "[The position] comes with a lot more responsibility because I am charged with being a steward of the Army and the APG community and to represent that and all commands on APG."
Sykes is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal sergeant with the 25th Chemical Company, 22d Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade and 20th CBRNE Command. He is the recipient of numerous awards and citations, including the Army Commendation Medal.
The Rousayne Family--consisting of Spc. Cassandra Rousayne, husband Heath and daughters Skylar and Cameron--received the 4th Annual Family of the Year award for their support of and commitment to the APG community.
Some of the Family's community volunteer efforts include participating in church Christmas and Easter plays held at the Harford Senior House; preparing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child for children in need overseas; delivering gifts to the Upper Chesapeake Pediatric Unit and coaching and participating in APG youth sports. Rousayne has also served as the local Armed Services Blood Program event coordinator for the past two years.
"We were honored of course," Rousayne said. "In our position, we don't serve and do things for recognition, so it's humbling, especially when you think of everyone else who is deserving of this award. It's just a way of life for us, and it's nice for the girls to learn to serve and to be recognized."
APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton also thanked the award recipients for their service to the APG community.
"We are here as a group to recognize our military," he said. "This gives the community the opportunity to appreciate what they have done, and we owe you all a debt of gratitude. I'd also like to say thank you to the community for your support and to encourage you to continue to support the greater DoD initiative."
All award recipients received gifts from sponsors.
The Harford County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee hosted the event.