By Natela Cutter, DLIFLCJune 10, 2014
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center announced the winners of the 2013 Command Language Program of the Year and Language Professional of the Year for all four services June 3.
The winner of the competition this year was Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandi Fast, from the 25th Intelligence Squadron, at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The award recognizes outstanding military language professionals and their accomplishments and highlights the critical role military linguists play in supporting missions around the world.
"Tech Sgt. Fast spent hundreds, even thousands of hours helping others achieve the language proficiency goals - where did she ever find the time?" questioned DLIFLC Commandant Col. David Chapman with a broad smile and jovial tone of voice. "She is incredible."
Fast deployed twice to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in 2013 where she utilized her diverse language skills to support special operations missions. Additionally, her language skills proved critical in the support of a downed allied helicopter that resulted in the successful recovery of 14 aircrew members. While at home station, Fast demonstrated outstanding professionalism by managing her unit's Cryptologic Skills Program.
The runner-up for the 2013 DOD Language Professional of the Year was awarded to Spc. Shawn Pitcher, from the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
In recognition of his accomplishments, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command gave Pitcher the opportunity to go on a one-month foreign language immersion trip to the country of his choice.
"I just returned from Singapore yesterday," said Pitcher. "One of the aspects I most enjoyed about the Chinese language immersion is that my classmates came from all over the world and had different viewpoints on cultural and political issues. And no one spoke English!"
The United States Marine Corps' 2nd Radio Battalion won the DOD Program of the Year award. The Marine Corps' Language Professional of the Year was Sgt. Lea Bay, who speaks three less-commonly-taught languages fluently.
"Being able to help support boots on the ground with my language skills is very rewarding," said Bay.
The awards were given during the annual Advanced Command Language Program Manager Workshop that is hosted by DLIFLC. The CLPM course, attended by 120 service members this year, is designed to teach and assist linguist managers who are tasked with assisting military linguist in maintaining their language capabilities. There are approximately 700 CLP managers across DOD whose responsibility is to manage linguist careers and report on the status of language training and readiness to their commanders.