CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Daniel Countiss, battalion retention noncommissioned officer, 1st "Dragon" Battalion 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is being recognized as the top battalion retention NCO within the 1st Cav. Div. during fiscal year 2007.

Countiss was volunteered for the position as a retention NCO approximately 28 months ago and has no regrets since assuming the job. "I love taking care of Soldiers," stated the Mechanicsville, Md. native. In the past year, he has managed to reenlist 144 Soldiers from the Dragon battalion.

As a retention NCO, he interacts with Soldiers and coordinates with a 1st BCT career counselor to assure they receive the incentives of their choice.

"He does a great job talking to the Soldiers and finding out what they want," said Staff Sgt. James Ray, a career counselor for 1st BCT, 1st CD. This Section, Ala. native was recently selected as the Multi-National Division-Baghdad Career Counselor of the Year.

Countiss, described as the epitome of a NCO by 1st Sgt. Robert Spinks, the top noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt., believes that influencing a Soldier to make a decision, regardless of if they reenlist or not, is the progress in the program.

"It's all about taking care of the Soldier, not the unit," he boldly stated. "He's well deserving of the award," said Spinks, a Jackson, Miss. native.

"He works to get the Soldiers exactly what they want," commented Capt. Jason Bullock, commander of HHB, 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. He credits Countiss' increased success to being proactive. "He is constantly walking around talking to all the Soldiers. He's a great listener and he really cares." the San Antonio, Texas native added.

Although getting Soldiers to reenlist during a time of war has its challenges, Countiss honed his skills to not only take care of the Soldiers' desires but also the needs of the army.

"Countiss met the retention challenge head on and displayed professionalism daily in a decisive and positive manner while taking care of Soldiers. His steadfast determination brings great credit upon the "Dragon" Battalion." said Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Giles, the top NCO of 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. who is an Omaha, Neb. native.

For the 2007 fiscal year, 1-82 Field Artillery was also the top battalion for retention within 1st Cav. Div as well as having the top battery (Battery B).

"This shows the Soldiers understand the spirit of service," said Lt. Col. Martin Clausen, commander of 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt, a San Diego native. "They serve and honorably live their lives.

"Countiss was the most important person for communicating the genuine concern of the command and he retained the best Soldiers," Clausen added. "He achieved this by selflessly and routinely serving."

Countiss measures his success not by numbers but by the effect he has had on Soldiers.

"I feel I could have done more," he said. "Working with Soldiers is wonderful and for every Soldier who reenlisted I feel I have helped them and their families make a great decision in life."