BASRAH, Iraq - Two 36th Infantry Division Band Soldiers were recently chosen to receive prestigious awards from the School of Music, the military occupational skill school for band members of all branches of service.

Staff Sgt. Maurice Kelley, electric and upright bass player, was chosen as the Army Reserve Component Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2010, and Sgt. Charles Fricker, percussionist, was one of 12 military band members chosen for the first Col. Finley R. Hamilton Military Outstanding Musician Award, which acknowledges U.S. military enlisted musicians who show exceptional qualities in military leadership and music.

"I'm very thrilled and humbled to receive the award," said Fricker, a 32-year-old native of Philadelphia, Pa., who works as a percussion instructor for grades six through 12 for the Angleton Independent School District in Angleton, Texas. "The process for the award started during pre-mobilization at (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.), and the recipients were announced while we were here in Iraq."

"I feel I've grown as a Soldier, especially after being a reserve-component and National Guard Soldier for so many years," added Fricker, a 14-year veteran who is on his first deployment. "Being an active-duty Soldier, especially deployed, has allowed me to grow as a leader, as a non-commissioned officer. It's been a great experience."

Kelley, a 10-year veteran who also began his service in the Army Reserve, said he agreed that receiving a prestigious award was an honor.

"I've been fortunate to drill with many bands, and I know there are a lot of really good NCOs out there," said Kelley, a 40-year-old native of Sedalia, Mo., who holds a doctorate in music from the University of Nebraska. "People may say, 'Well, but you have your doctorate.' There are really a lot of NCOs with doctorates in the bands, at least on the reserve component side. So it is pretty humbling, because I know the competition is pretty stiff."

"These are two Soldier-musicians who have distinguished themselves through their continued every-day commitment to the 36th Infantry Division Band, the Texas Army National Guard and the United States Army," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeffrey Lightsey, band commander. "Through our pre-mobilization training at Fort Lewis to our current assignment in Basrah, Iraq, they have distinguished themselves in every facet of mission performance. I can think of no two Soldiers who better represent the Army Values and the NCO Corps. I am extremely proud of them and their selection above their peers throughout the military band field. They are truly deserving."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16