Fort Benning, Ga. - The U.S. Army Infantry School and Fort Benning named its top instructors for the third quarter.

The junior enlisted honoree is SSG Robbi Stanton of B Company, 5th Ranger Training Battalion, at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga. SFC Stephen Stancil of A Company, 6th Ranger Training Battalion, at Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., earned the senior enlisted nod.

CPT Nate Smith, a senior platoon trainer with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment - which teaches the Infantry Officer Basic Course - was selected best instructor in the officer category.

MG Michael Ferriter, Fort Benning's commanding general, will recognize all three Friday during a ceremony and breakfast at the Benning Conference Center.

"It's a pretty good feeling," Stanton said of his selection. "Hard work and dedication definitely paid off. I always try to be professional toward my students and peers ... You've got to be willing to put forth effort and go that extra mile."

Stanton has been assigned to Fort Benning for eight of his nine years in the Army. He's been with the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Merrill since June 2006. In January 2008, Stanton became a Ranger instructor with B Company, where he teaches mountaineering skills and dismounted patrols.

For part of this year, however, teacher became student at the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vt., where he was a distinguished honor graduate of the winter phase and honor graduate during the summer session.

"Mountaineering and outdoors stuff are things I've been doing since I grew up. It's second nature to me," said the Salt Lake City native. "But at the end of the day, you realize you're definitely making an impact on these (Ranger students) out there. You've got to stay fresh and keep focused."

Stanton went to Iraq and Afghanistan twice each as a member of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He also completed a yearlong deployment to Iraq with 1st Battalion, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, out of Fort Irwin, Calif.

Right now, he's attending the Maneuver Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course at Fort Benning and will finish Aug. 18. This fall, he reports to a new assignment with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo.

Stanton said he's working toward an online degree in global security and intelligence from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He also just re-enlisted.

He said he hopes to become a first sergeant for an Infantry company and would like to pin on sergeant major before reaching the 20-year mark in his military career.

"I'm definitely in it for the long haul," Stanton said.

Stancil, meanwhile, mentors and coaches students in "small, critical combat techniques (within) a very tough, stressful environment" during the Florida phase of Ranger School, he said. He's served at Camp Rudder for the past 14 months.

"It is a great honor to be selected amongst so many other great instructors who have not only been there but those that are stationed at Fort Benning, too," Stancil said. "It really came as a surprise. I have had other Ranger instructor buddies of mine who I look up to that have won this award, and now I am part of that group.

"I always strive to go above the standard when the standard is set."

Patience is a critical component of his job, he said.

"You have to realize that not all Soldiers know all the battle drills and classes that we teach," he said. "We teach it every cycle so it's like a clock for us. And also putting 45 to 50 Soldiers together within a week and having them work as a platoon and knowing each Ranger's capabilities is tough."

Stancil, of San Diego, has been in the Army for 16 years. He deployed to Iraq from January 2007 to March 2008.

"My success has been the result of outstanding leadership from when I was a private all the way through till now," he said. "I have been lucky enough to have great platoon sergeants, first sergeants and command sergeants major who have taught and led in great ways."

Winning the award among officer instructors wasn't a major priority for Smith, he said. He just wanted to teach his class and continue the mission.

"It's an honor. I feel surprised, and appreciative," he said. "I know my students and I have a good relationship. You know, it feels good. I'm not going to rest my laurels on it, but it's a nice thing to feel appreciated."

Smith was commissioned in May 2004 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He arrived at Fort Benning two years ago to complete the Maneuver Captains Career Course. In December 2007, he assumed his current position.

"Captain Smith brings endless optimism to training and then spreads that optimism to his Soldiers," said MAJ Mariano Wecer, his company commander. "He is just a great trainer to be around."

Smith said he instructs lieutenants with different backgrounds and experience levels. Some are straight out of college while others are former NCOs. Striking a balance can be challenging, he said.

"I try to be approachable and fairly easygoing, but at the same time, you have to set the standard," he said. "I try to provide them some realistic expectations of what they're going to face in the Army. That's how I set my benchmark for success. Are they more ready to lead Soldiers than I was when I was a lieutenant'"

Smith praised his own NCO team for "pulling a lot of the weight" on various tasks and allowing him to focus on teaching and interacting with the lieutenants.

"I'm successful in my job because of the hard work of my NCOS. They carry the burden, and they make my job easy," he said.

From October 2005 to September 2006, Smith deployed to Iraq with 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Assault). He said he'd like to become a company commander in his next assignment and lead Soldiers in combat.

He's taking online courses for his master's degree in business administration from American Military University. Ultimately, Smith hopes to work as an instructor at West Point, he said.

Stanton, Stancil and Smith now have an opportunity to compete for USAIS Instructor of the Year.

Each recipient of the quarterly honor also receives a certificate of achievement, USAIS plaque, Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift certificate, and merchandise from Ranger Joe's and Commando's Military Supplies.

Page last updated Fri July 24th, 2009 at 12:26