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CENTCOM Service Member of the Year

By Tom Gagnier U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

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U.S. Central Command headquarters announced their 2018 junior and senior enlisted Service Member of the Year (SMOY) at an awards ceremony, April 6.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yonas Reinholdson assembles an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Reinholdson was announced as Junior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yonas Reinholdson assembles an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Reinholdson was announced as Junior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yonas Reinholdson assembles an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Reinholdson was announced as Junior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier) CENTCOM Service Member of the Year
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yonas Reinholdson assembles an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Reinholdson was announced as Junior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
At the ceremony, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Thetford, the U.S. Central Command's senior enlisted leader, congratulated U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yonas Reinholdson as the Junior SMOY, and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baranek as the Senior SMOY.

Eight exemplary Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines competed in a two day competition that included a physical fitness event, a weapons assembly and target range event, a medical emergency scenario, and a formal board.

“Our SMOY competition was designed to assess both their physical and mental skills through a variety of ‘hands-on’ events and public speaking challenges,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Thetford. “General Votel and I are very proud of all of them!"

Reinholdson, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, entered the Marine Corps in Sept. 2011. His assignments include the 3d Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa, Japan, Marine Corps Recruiting Station Des Moines, Iowa, and currently U.S. Central Command’s Logistics directorate.

“I am honored to even have been considered for the award, and grateful for all the support and encouragement I received on the way to successfully achieving the award,” said Reinholdson. “The two days of competition were surprisingly enjoyable, and were a nice break from day to day operations.”

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baranek fires an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Baranek was announced as Senior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baranek fires an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Baranek was announced as Senior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baranek fires an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Baranek was announced as Senior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier) CENTCOM Service Member of the Year
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Baranek fires an M4 carbine rifle during a weapons assembly and target range event that was part of U.S. Central Command’s Service Member of the Year (SMOY) competition. Baranek was announced as Senior SMOY during an awards ceremony April 6. (Photo by Tom Gagnier)
Baranek, a native of Aiken, South Carolina, entered the Army in April 2004. He attended combat medic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and deployed to Iraq in 2005, serving as a medic in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) Personal Security Detachment. He served as Master Fitness Trainer Course (MFTC) Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and is currently assigned to U.S. Central Command’s Operations directorate.

“This award is special because I was able to compete against service members from other branches of the military,” said Baranek. “The competition provided a unique experience to interact and learn about the different branches of service, which to me, is imperative to our operational success.”

Competitors in the junior service member category (E-5 and below), included Reinholdson, U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Andy Almonte, and U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas Adams.

Competitors in the senior service member category (E-6 – E-7), included Baranek, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Ziolkowski, U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Taylor Horne, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Antoine Brown, and U.S. Navy Yeoman 1st Class Patrick Bolling.

"These eight service members represent the best of their respective services within CENTCOM headquarters,” said Thetford. “Their performance clearly showed why they represent the next generation of leaders for the Joint Force.”

Both Reinholdson and Baranek were awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal, and a tandem-jump opportunity with U.S. Special Operations Command Para-Commandos.