PIERRE, S.D. – A South Dakota Army National Guard Soldier received a national award from the U.S. Army Engineer Association recognizing outstanding military service.Spc. Cooper Mueller, of Oacoma, received the Van Autreve Award that recognizes junior-enlisted personnel contributions and service to U.S. Army engineers.Mueller, 21, serves as a bridge crewmember with the Pierre-based 200th Engineer Company and is a third-year nursing student at South Dakota State University.Named for the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army, Leon. L. Van Autreve, the award is presented annually to a soldier in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve and National Guard.“I am excited and extremely grateful to receive the Van Autreve Award. It’s an honor to have been considered for it,” said Mueller.Mueller was selected for the award based on leadership recommendations for his outstanding performance as a Soldier and his skills as a bridge crewmember.“Mueller is an outstanding Soldier and continuously sets the example for others to follow,” said Capt. Geoffrey Pollman, 200th commander. “His conduct and willingness to exemplify the Army Values has set him apart from his peers. He has surpassed all expectations and continuously volunteers for new challenges.”The Van Autreve Award is one of five engineer awards presented annually. Award selection areas include training and education, leadership skills, personal growth, management experience and other discerning areas in the overall selection process.“I think the best part about being in the South Dakota National Guard is the ability to learn skills you’d never get to try on the civilian side. I don’t have many friends that have had the opportunity to rappel or shoot a MK19 (grenade launcher),” said Mueller. “I enjoy the fast tempo of it (being a bridge crewmember) but also the teamwork aspect of it – no one person could build a bridge.”For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter