LATHAM, NY--A Korean-American police officer with three combat tours under his belt, and a community college student slated to deploy for the first time in the fall have been selected as traditional Non-commissioned Officer of the Year and Soldier of the Year for the 10,500-member New York Army National Guard.
Staff Sgt. Sihoon Chung, a resident of Ridgefield, N. J. and a Leonia, N.J. police officer was named traditional part-time Non-commissioned Officer of the Year.
Spec. Brian Lekhmus, a student a Dutchess County Community College and a Salt Point, N.Y. resident was selected as junior enlisted Soldier of the Year following a competition here on March 24-25.
Sgt. David Martinsen, a Troy resident, was picked as the outstanding Active Guard and Reserve Non-commissioned Officer of the Year for the New York Army National Guard.
Martinsen and Lekhmus will go on to compete against their counterparts from other Northeastern state National Guards.
The regional event will determine whether or not they will compete against Guard sergeants and junior enlisted Soldiers from across the country.The Non-commissioned Officers and junior Soldiers selected there face off against the best junior enlisted Soldiers and sergeants from the Active Army and the Army Reserve.
Martinsen was selected to represent the New York Army National Guard's non-commissioned officers corps because he scored more competition points than Chung.
Junior enlisted Soldiers and sergeants from the New York Army National Guard's six major commands pitted their skills and knowledge against each other to determine the best for 2012. The Soldiers competed against each in the areas of military knowledge and skills. All the contestants are top performers in physical fitness and marksmanship.
"I am amazed at the knowledge, professionalism and skills that the competitors at the New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition exhibit as they tackle each event," said New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Frank Wicks.
"Although we can only select one winner in each category, these Soldiers are clearly the best of the best. These Soldiers and NCO's will continue to grow and excel and I am confident that these are our future Senior Non Commissioned officer. We are fortunate to have Soldiers of this caliber in the New York Army National Guard," Wicks said.
Being picked is a "significant achievement" for each Soldier, Wicks said. "It is evident that these Soldiers have the drive and determination to do what it takes to succeed. This is a clear indicator of a Soldier's potential and I am positive that we will see more great accomplishments from them."
Staff Sgt. Sihoon Chung:
Chung, age 35 and a veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a member of the New York Army National Guard since 2005. He served in the Active Army for four years before joining the National Guard.
He currently serves as an instructor in infantry skills with the 106th Regiment Regional Training Institute based at Camp Smith Training Center in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. Since joining the unit in late 2005 he has trained and mentored over 300 Soldiers.
"I'm very proud to have won the honor and to represent the 106th RTI ," Chung said. "It was a very good experience and something every NCO should experience. My supervisors suggested that I enter the competition and I'm glad I decided to do it."
Chung served in Iraq in 2002/03 and in 2004 as a Scout Sniper and then Squad Leader with 82nd Airborne Division, and as an instructor training the Afghan Army in Kabul Afghanistan with the New York Army National Guard's 27th Brigade Combat Team in 2008.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Commendation Medal (three awards) the NATO Medal and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.
Chung is a graduate of Army Airborne School, Army Airborne Jump Master School, Air Assault Course, The Army Pre-Ranger Basic Instructor Course, the Army Small Group Instructor Course, the Army Primary Leadership Development Course, and Infantry Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course.
Chung is married to Eunkyung Chung . They have two daughters; Emilee, age two and Ella, age seven months.
Chung holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the State University of New York in Stonybrook, N.Y. He is also a member of the Korean American Law Enforcement Association.
Spec. Brian Lekhmus:
Lekhmus is a member of the 101st Signal Battalion, which has units in Peekskill and Yonkers. He joined the New York National Guard in February 2009. He graduated from Arlington High School in LaGrangeville, N.Y.
Lekhmus, who is studying exercise science and wellness, will deploy with the 101st Signal Battalion to Afghanistan in the fall. He and other members of his unit responded to assist victims of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in September, 2011.
"I decided to compete in this honor because it was an opportunity for me to represent my unit and the New York Army National Guard, " Lekhmus said. "I take pride in the National Guard and didn't want to pass up on an opportunity to compete to represent the organization."
Lekhmus has received the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon and the New York Humane Service Medal.
Sgt. David Martinsen:
Sgt. David Martinsen, who lives in Troy, NY and is a Cairo-Durham High School graduate, has been picked as the outstanding Active Guard and Reserve Non-comissioned Officer of the Year for the New York Army National Guard.
As an Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) member of the Guard, Martinsen works full time as a Soldier at Joint Force Headquarters in Latham.
A combat veteran, Martinsen, age 26, deployed in Iraq from October 2007 to January 2009 while in the Active Army as a member of the 510th Human Resources Company and the 101st Human Resources Company.
Active Guard and Reserve Soldiers perform the administrative and logistical functions which allow the bulk of the New York National Guard's 10,500 Soldiers who serve on a part-time basis to train and perform their duties effectively.
"I wanted to participate in this because I have participated in this before when I was in the Active Army and never won the big competition," Martinsen said. So this meant a lot for me to win it this time because I was so close to winning the higher level before. It took a lot of hard work and time to do it though. I studied every night, some more than others on all the possible topics I could be asked about."
" It really feels great to be the NCO of the Year. It really feels like all my hard work paid off. Now I just have to continue studying and ensure that I'm equally prepared for the next level," he said.
His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal which is presented to military members who distinguish themselves through local community volunteer service.
Martinsen, who joined the Army National in 2004, holds a Bachelor in Business degree from TUI University and has completed the military Warrior Leader Course.