By Sgt. Luisito Brooks, The Old Guard Public AffairsFebruary 27, 2012
WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2012) -- Born in Harlem, N.Y. and raised in Sandusky, Ohio, Sgt. 1st Class William Bastian admitted he wasn't too sure about the Army at first, but wanted to give it a shot and see where it would take him.
Twelve years later, Bastian, career counselor, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), was recognized as the 2012 Secretary of the Army Career Counselor of the Year at a ceremony in Arlington, Va., last month.
Prior to entering the career counselor field, Bastian spent the first part of his Army career as a fire direction specialist; however, after six years, he was selected to serve his country doing something a little different, recruiting.
"I will never forget when I had this young guy walk into our recruiting station one day, who was clearly overweight, and said he wants to join the Army," recalled Bastian . "Before I could say anything, he said he lost his parents in a car accident a year prior and how much he needs the military to help change his life."
Bastian helped the recruit loose more than 80 lbs through exercising five days a week for four months. In the end, he was able to join the military.
"He still sends me letters and emails thanking me for the things that I have done to help him progress in the military, but it's just who I am," said Bastian. "I enjoy investing into someone because that is what got me to where I am today. If it wasn't for the investment others have made in me, then I wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I have."
Bastian spent three years as a recruiter before volunteering to become a career counselor, a job which led him to The Old Guard.
Master Sgt. Matthew Quick, senior career counselor, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), said he was immediately impressed by Bastian's work ethic.
"We arrived at The Old Guard around the same time back in August 2010 and he just hit the ground running. He really wanted to help out Soldiers in The Old Guard because he has the highest respect for them," said Quick. "Bastian is a hard worker, and he wasn't afraid to try anything even if the outcome was failure. He learned from every situation."
Just a few months at his new duty station, Bastian won the 2011 Military District of Washington Career Counselor of the Year award, moving on to compete for the 2011 SA Career Counselor of the Year, but fell just short of his ultimate goal of winning.
"I was happy with how I did considering I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the competition last year," said Bastian. "This year, I studied and worked out six to seven days a week getting ready for the boards."
Bastian battled to be named the 2012 MDW Career Counselor of the Year, propelling him to compete once again in the SA Career Counselor of the Year competition.
More than a dozen career counselors representing the different U.S. Army commands faced off to determine who was the best.
The contestants were critiqued in three events: an Army physical fitness test, a board where Soldiers were quizzed orally and graded on their uniforms, and a written test pertaining to the retention career field.
"I was a bit nervous when they were about to announce the winner of the competition because I had worked so hard to get to this point, but I also know that so have the rest of the competitors," said Bastian. "The competition was tough because you're competing against a group of highly intelligent, professional and driven noncommissioned officers, so I was unsure if I was going to win or not."
After hearing his name, Bastian explained how overwhelmed he felt to win and thankful for the people that believed in his dream.
"This is the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my 12-year military career, but this award isn't just my accomplishment," said Bastian. "This was an accumulation of all the family, friends and peers that had confidence in me. I have dreamed about achieving this since I became a counselor. To be able to represent The Old Guard and the MDW is really indescribable."
An award ceremony hosted by the Secretary of the Army is planned for later this year at the Pentagon.