VICKSBURG, Miss. - Every year an Army engineer warrant officer earns the title of the best. This year that honor went to an Army Reserve Soldier recently returned from Afghanistan.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Bowling, 377th Engineer Company, construction engineering technician, received the Army Engineer Association Best Warrant Officer Award, Sept. 6 during a ceremony in Butler, Pennsylvania.
This award recognizes the top engineer warrant officer in the Army.
"I didn't serve with him in Afghanistan, but I can tell you this much, his actions in Afghanistan caught the attention of general grade officers through his devotion, dedication and leadership abilities," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Carlos Jimenez, 412th Theater Engineer Command, command chief warrant officer.
Even catching the attention of his superiors didn't clue Bowling in on his achievement. Receiving the award was unexpected for him.
"I was flattered, kind of shocked. I didn't think I necessarily did anything exceptional, compared to what my team members were doing," said Bowling, a Portersville, Pennsylvania, resident. "We all worked very hard so it's nice to be shown that appreciation, but I was surprised, especially when you consider how many people were deployed, how many engineers were deployed, how many warrant officers go over in the same position as me."
This award was noteworthy not only for Bowling, but also for the units he represents.
"It's competitive amongst all branches, Reserve and active duty so to have a CW2 from the Reserve, more so one of our own downtrace warrant officers to be selected for that very distinguished recognition, it is monumental and a major milestone for his unit, the 412th TEC and the Army Reserve," said Jimenez, a Bronx, New York, native.
Bowling was surprised by the award, but believes he was recognized because of his commitment.
"I think work ethic," said Bowling. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I do a good job and try to be an example for the people I work with so I think that may have shown through."
After meeting with Bowling's Soldiers and hearing about their experiences, Jimenez said he understood what made Bowling stand out.
"Speaking to members of his unit who spoke about him, it really gave me the full perspective as to how and why he received this prestigious award," he said. "He is much deserving and the example that he sets for other warrants, for members of his unit, it is evident every time Chief Bowling comes around and does his job over there at the 377th Engineer Company."
Although Bowling did earn the award, he is humble about it and attributes his success to his team.
"Recognition like this, even though it's an individual award, it can't be attributed to just one person," said Bowling. "It comes from the hard work and dedication of a team and building that team is more important than any one person's efforts."
The award was presented by Jimenez and Brig. Gen. Miyako Schanely, deputy commanding general, 412th TEC.
"It was an honor for me to present the award with Gen. Schanely because I got to spend some time with him on a personal level and I could tell, not only is he a bright, professional Soldier, but he's a great family man and he's a great person," said Jimenez. "That for me spoke volumes after talking to him and meeting his wife and newborn."
Being the best is no small task. Bowling's advice to warrant officers who aspire to follow his footsteps is to encompass what being a warrant officer means.
"Take their job very seriously and look at the definition of what a warrant officer is: to be an expert in your career field and not to take that lightly," he said. "To always push yourself to build your base knowledge so you can be prepared for as many situations as you can."
Jimenez agrees being an expert in their career fields is important for warrant officers, but also thinks the Army is looking for even more from today's warrant officers.
"The Army expects more from warrant officers in today's downsizing world. Much is expected with less resources," he said. "The best has to be looked at from different perspectives: leading by example, being technically and tactically proficient, being involved, being sincerely concerned, being mission-oriented, completing missions without failure. Those are the things I would venture for when I speak to my downtrace supporting warrant officers: all of the above. You've got to be the complete package."
Bowling proved through this award, he is the complete package.