Local chaplain assistant is USAREUR's best
Spc. Travis Kennedy

WIESBADEN, Germany - A U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Soldier earned recognition as U.S. Army Europe Chaplain Assistant of the Year 2009 coinciding with the Centennial of the Chaplain Assistant.
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Sgt. Maj. Pamela Neal of the USAREUR Chaplain's Office honored Spc. Travis Kennedy Feb. 9 in the Hainerberg Chapel for his ability to articulate how religious support is shaped for Europe in tune with the Army Chaplaincy Strategic Plan.
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"He made an outstanding impression. He is totally advanced for his rank," said the senior chaplain assistant and 24-year veteran speaking of Kennedy's confidence and passion.
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Kennedy competed against 16 Soldiers from USAREUR, V Corps, European Regional Medical Command, 5th Signal Command, 66th Military Intelligence, Installation Management-Europe, other garrisons, Joint Military Training Center, 21st Theater Support Command, NATO, Southern European Task Force and other major subordinate commands.
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"He showed he had the leadership qualities and he was concerned about the people he interacts with," said Patricia Berry, a Veterans Affairs representative, who also served on the board.
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Reeling from the loss at the IMCOM-E Soldier of the Year competition, Kennedy said the news of the nomination for Chaplain Assistant of the Year served as motivation to get him back on track.
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"When I lost IMCOM-E, I didn't take it as honorably as I should have," he said, saying that he tried to get over the disappointment through playing video games and painting. "I thought it could be a way of getting back into the groove."
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And while the prestige of being named the best of all junior enlisted Soldiers in Europe is significant, the South Carolina native said the chaplain assistant honor is even more momentous.
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"This one says I'm the best in my specific (Military Occupational Specialty). It's recognition for being the best at what we do. Losing this one would've been really tough," said Kennedy, mentioning that he bested the Soldier of the Year who has been a good friend and peer since basic training.
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At the leading of the board, Kennedy said he relaxed and gave his interpretation of the chief of chaplains' goal for religious support in Wiesbaden; the Army Chaplaincy Strategic Plan is reshaped for Europe by the USAREUR chaplain, Chaplain (Col.) Ray Bailey.
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"The board members said I was a little uptight and high strung. They told me to relax and that helped me mentally," he said.
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Though Kennedy's new title is certain, he said he was unsure of his impression on the board at the immediate conclusion of the interview session.
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"The final question was, 'why do you think you should be the Chaplain Assistant of the Year,' and I basically said, 'why not me,'" said Kennedy adding that he thought his confidence was perceived as arrogance.
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While much of the board examination and response was relative to Kennedy's personal and professional interpretation of the strategic plan, it was the responses given about the possible outcome that resonated with board members most.
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"I asked him, what if you don't win ... and he replied 'It's not going to change who I am or the work I do for the community of Wiesbaden,'" said Neal noting that Kennedy replied with sheer conviction and affirmation.
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Kennedy said he entered the Army three years ago realizing the need for personal structure and purpose, leaving a job where he was employed making mattresses. The Greenville, S.C., native said he intends to make the Army a career and is working on a bachelor's degree in psychology.
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Sgt. Judith Oman of U.S. Army Garrison GrafenwAfAPhr earned the Chaplain Assistant Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Award. Both related and implemented Europe's Army Chaplaincy Strategic Plan into their units and daily routines. They spoke about the relevancy of the history of the chaplain assistant noting famous chaplain assistants throughout Army history.
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They received an Army Achievement Medal, the USAREUR Chaplain and Sergeant Major Plaque and other gifts that included $100 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards.

Page last updated Fri March 5th, 2010 at 10:58