Installation Award Banquet brings out "best of best"
February 24, 2012
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Fort Huachuca's annual Installation Awards Banquet recognized the "best of the best" competitors for 2011 in various award categories.
More than 200 people attended the banquet to watch the winners accept their awards. All of the winners knew of their awards beforehand except for the Instructor of the Year, Army Soldier of the Year and Army Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; those awards were kept secret until the event.
"We are going to recognize some outstanding civilians and servicemembers tonight, but there are so many more that competed and didn't compete that are equally as good as the folks we are going to recognize tonight," said Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca.
"I think events like tonight are critically important where we recognize the excellence we try to foster both in our military and civilians, and I think it is appropriate that we stop every once in a while and recognize those individuals for their superior performance," Potter told the crowd. "It allows us to recognize the best and the most hard-working [people]."
Nine competitors were awarded honors at the banquet at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre along with four unit retention awards being given to the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, the 62nd Army Band, the Noncommissioned Officers Academy and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAICoE, for meeting 100 percent or more of their fiscal 2011 retention objectives.
Thirty local sponsors helped to make the banquet possible, donating toward the winners' awards.
The people awarded included:
Sarah Rhoads, who was the recipient of the Margaret C. Corbin Award for "demonstrating dedicated, exemplary volunteerism as an outstanding and totally committed military spouse working tirelessly to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their families." Rhoads has 200 documented volunteer hours. She has worked in her position as family readiness group leader for one-and-a-half years in HHC 111th MI Bde.
"It's an honor and very exciting; just getting the recognition for hard work is the best part," she said.
The Fort Huachuca Marine of the Year is Staff Sgt. Willie Cheeseboro, U.S. Marine Corp. instructor-operator at the 2nd of the 13th Aviation Regiment.
"It's a pretty good honor. There [are] a lot of good Marines out there at the detachment, so I am happy that I got to represent them here," he said.
Cheeseboro has worked on Fort Huachuca for two years. "The best part is I get to come out here and have a nice dinner with my daughter." Jordan, 8, said it was "odd" to watch her dad win.
Civilian of the Year, Officer Scott Hadfield, sergeant with the traffic section of the Fort Huachuca Military Police, has worked on Fort Huachuca since 2009.
"I feel very honored to be selected. I enjoy my work and work hard at it. I always try to do better and take on more responsibilities," Hadfield said. He was originally one of the 2011 Civilians of the Month.
Civilians of the Month are nominated and selected based on superior job performance and overall impacts to the Army mission, Potter said. Hadfield was selected from the more than 7,000 civilian employees working for more than 40 organizations on Fort Huachuca.
Instructor of the Year, Matthew Arnold is a senior instructor for the 35M human intelligence collector course, 309th MI Battalion. Arnold has worked on Fort Huachuca for almost two-and-a-half years.
"It feels great to be chosen. I was driven to compete my very best by the other competition, so I did. I knew I was going up against other good people so I had to be good too," Arnold said. Instructors were evaluated at the unit level as well as in school-wide competitions and were evaluated three times during the competition year.
Active Duty Recruiter of the Year, Staff Sgt. Daniel Mabe, Sierra Vista Recruiting Station, said, "I feel honored, I work with a lot of awesome people. To actually be picked was unexpected and surprising. It felt good, I work with people who I think are the best of the best when it comes to NCOs and to even be thought about in the same league as them is a great honor," he said.
Mabe has worked in the area for three-and-a half years. "This is an experience that I think that everybody, if they get a chance to, should come out and try. Be a recruiter for a while -- see a different side to the military," he added.
Fort Huachuca Army Reserve Recruiter of the Year, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Chadwick, Old Pueblo Tucson Recruiting, said, "It feels good, good to be recognized for hard work. I was honored by my new commander who just stepped in and based [his knowledge] off of what he knew about me up to then, and based off of that performance and what the [prior] commander said to him. I was recommended for this, and I achieved the award," he said.
Chadwick has been a recruiter for nine months. "I haven't been recruiting long, but since I have been recruiting, I made my area my footprint. People know who I am and what I can do for their community -- it feels excellent," he added.
Sailor of the Year, Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Freshour, works at the Joint Interoperability Test Command and is a Buena High School graduate from Sierra Vista. He has been in the Navy for five years and has been at Fort Huachuca for one year.
"It is a great honor. There were a lot of good people going up, so it is an honor. There are not very many Navy [personnel] here, so it's an honor to be recognized by the Army," he said. Freshour was selected from 32 Navy personnel on Fort Huachuca for the award.
The Army Soldier of the Year and Army Noncommissioned Officer of the Year had to complete an Army physical fitness test, warrior tasks and drills, day and night land-navigation, 12-mile tactical road march, range, a written exam, essay, speak to a board of the fort's top NCOs and complete a mystery event two weeks ago as part of the competition.
Soldier of the Year, Spc. Jacob Stockman, 11th Signal Brigade, Company C, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion said, "It's a huge relief, actually. The last two weeks have been the longest two weeks ever. They said the hardest part of the competition was the road march but it was actually waiting to find out who was going to win. It felt like it was two months rather than two weeks, so it feels good."
Stockman, who has worked on Fort Huachuca for just over a year, said, "The best part of the competition was that everyone had already won their previous competition in their individual units, so it made the competition a lot harder, and it made you push yourself. It really brought out the best not only in yourself, but also in the other competitors as well," he explained.
Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Sgt. John Batemon, Company B, 304th MI Bn., 111th MI Bde., said, "I feel honored to have even competed. Whether or not I won is absolutely irrelevant. Each Soldier I competed against all have their strengths, Sergeant First Class Zehring kicked my [butt] in the board, Sergeant Hilligoss was the only one I actually had stay beside me on a 12-mile road march, and then the last 50 feet take off. Without the competitors being so proficient at what they do, it wouldn't have made it such an excellent competition, and I just feel honored to have been a part of it," he said.
Batemon has worked at Fort Huachuca for six months. His mother, Gloria Batemon, drove 14 hours to get there the day before. "I am so proud of him and could not be happier. I know he puts everything into whatever he does," she said.
During the ceremony, Potter thanked those who molded and guided the winners, as well as the people who did not win.
"Thank you to the leaders and supervisors who coached, taught and mentored these folks to get to where they are, and also the folks that aren't awarded tonight. You are still heroes in my book because it takes a lot of guts to compete, and there can only be one winner, unfortunately. but the fact that you competed speaks volumes about your character and professionalism," the commanding general said.