SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a month's span, Master Sgt. Brandon S. Morey ascended a ladder not many noncommissioned officers attempt to climb.

Morey, who is the assistant inspector general non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the California National Guard's Inspector General (IG) Office, attained not one, but two rare recognitions recently. He was named the National Guard Bureau IG NCO of the Year in March and went on to nearly being selected in the Department of the Army IG Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competition at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in April.

Morey was only a few points shy of earning the Department of the Army title. A month earlier, he won the NGB IG NCO of the Year, an honor that placed him as NGB's sole representative in the Department of the Army competition.

"There are still challenges out there for senior NCOs," said Morey, of Dixon, California. "It was a team effort overall. I could not have won without the help of my IG team. We held five different mock boards, each with increased levels of questions and pressure."

The annual NGB competition is offered to all 54 state and territories IG offices and Morey was one of nearly a dozen finalists. To earn his place, Morey had to comply with a strict administrative process that included the submission of an IG NCO nomination packet, a written essay and a video teleconference. The video teleconference was the last step in determining the NGB's representative, and senior leaders got to interview Morey as if he were standing before them.

"(His) selection as the NGB IG NCO of the Year and, then to be nearly selected as the DA IG NCO of the Year, identifies not only the extraordinary caliber of Morey as an assistant Inspector general, but also identifies him as a truly professional Soldier and noncommissioned officer," said Col. Robert J. Lehman, California National Guard state inspector general. "As part of a team, I believe that the success or failure of one of us represents the success or failure for us all. As a result, we should take tremendous pride in having Master Sgt. Morey, our fellow teammate, compete and succeed in representing not just himself, but all of us."

Up the ladder Morey went to the Department of the Army event that united winners from active duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. Again, Morey was one of nearly a dozen competitors. He did so well, at one point a board member asked if he could see a questionnaire from a distance because "I answered the question verbatim from what was written."

"Oh, he slam dunked it," Lehman added.

"The toughest part was the essay writing," Morey replied. "A very strict grading criterion from the IG school was used to grade the essays. Going into the event competitors knew each word would be highly scrutinized."
Morey's NGB victory earned the acclamation of NGB's top leaders -- Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell O. Brush, senior enlisted advisor, and the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel. Both rewarded Morey with coins. Morey was also coined by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.

A Florida Army National Guard member -- Sgt. 1st Class William Hughes -- took last year's title. The California IG's representative, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Howard, placed in the top four.

"Competing demonstrates that you want to be the absolute best at what you do," Lehman added. "It demonstrates a Warrior Ethos, something essential to our ability to fight and win on the battlefield."

Added Lehman, "In short, it's critically important to our professional culture and ethic and it builds our esprit de corps. My hope is that everyone can appreciate what Master Sgt. Morey has done to represent us all."

Morey traveled to the April event on the same day he celebrated his 18th wedding anniversary to spouse Karynne. Both competitions required a valiant effort from his family as well as his coworkers, Morey said.

"I sacrificed a lot in preparing for both competitions," he added. "I had the full support of my team and family, and I am truly thankful I had the opportunity to compete and represent the California National Guard."