By James Brabenec, Fort SillJuly 26, 2012
Artillerymen showed their excellence at the 2012 Forces Command Noncommissioned Officer of the Year competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., recently.
One of them was Staff Sgt. Matthew Seelig, a 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade air defense area fire coordination assistant, who was named first runner up for the honor.
Seelig competed against eight other NCOs at Fort Bragg, but to call him second best of nine misses the mark by a long shot. Because the competition included sergeants to sergeants first class, Seelig could call himself the second best NCO of more than 200,000 NCOs of similar rank in Forces Command.
"Being the runner up is an amazing honor, just to make it to that level is significant," said Seelig.
Excellence appears nothing new for the West Virginia native. With only five years of service under his belt, he used four of those to reach staff sergeant. Now, serving as a platoon sergeant, the Army entrusts him to supervise and lead 65 Soldiers and be responsible for more than $19.5 million in equipment. Likely that's good material on any 25-year-old's resume.
Seelig said he's keeping his options open concerning his future and could make a jump to the officer or warrant officer corps if the change was best for his family. He added he's perfectly content in his present job.
"I enjoy taking care of my Soldiers and being the first person they can come to for help with anything," he said. "But, I also remind them that they need to better themselves. "
Self-improvement appears to be an integral part of what helped Seelig achieve what he has so far in his career. He said he appreciates the Army granting him duty time to work on his fitness, and he goes beyond the standard to prepare himself physically for whatever challenges may come his way.
Having watched his sponsor go through the same competition in 2011 gave him the motivation to compete this year. In turn, he hopes his example leads other Soldiers around him to step up to opportunities to showcase their excellence.
"I hope they look at what I achieved and say, 'if he can do it, I can do it,'" said Seelig.
Seelig is married with two children. He credited his wife, Bethany for her persistence and encouragement to put his all into the competition. Their youngest child, only 5 months old, arrived when he was studying for a competition. Bethany assured him everything was under control and convinced him to keep pressing on.
"My wife was there every step of the way studying with me and pushing me to succeed," he said. "Doing these competitions back-to-back, you do get burned out, but she told me to keep after it and not get lazy. That meant a lot.
"She's my backbone," he said.
In addition to a supportive home life, Seelig credited his brigade for their support and for giving him the time to train and prepare.
"They gave me the resources needed to do what I did," he said. "The support I got from 31st Brigade I haven't seen anywhere else."