News | March 28, 2011

CENTCOM recognizes troops, civilians for their work

By Zack Baddorf , CENTCOM Public Affairs


U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Jones, U.S. Central Command chief of staff, poses with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Havard, who was selected as U.S. Central Command’s senior service member of the year, Mar. 25, 2011 at the Surf’s Edge Club at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Photo by Staff Sgt. Nancy Hooks.

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (March 25, 2011) — U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) recognized its top eight service members and two civilians of the year for their work at a ceremony today.

CENTCOM Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Michael Jones and Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe congratulated the military troops and civilians at a restaurant on base.

“I was ecstatic,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Scoggin, a targeting analyst in CENTCOM’s target production office who was selected as CENTCOM’s junior service member of the year. “All that hard work really paid off. It was one of the best feelings I’ve had since I’ve been in the military.”

Scoggin, who has worked at CENTCOM since September 2008, said “it’s good to see that they took the time to recognize” her effort and the effort of others.

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Freddie Whitehead, who was one of five senior military members who selected Scoggin and the senior service member of the year, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Havard. He described the candidates as “great.”

“You got the best of the best going against the best. Sometimes it’s very hard to grade. It was very close,” said Whitehead, who is the senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army soldiers at CENTCOM.

Each directorate at CENTCOM nominated one junior and senior military personnel for the competition.

The candidates were evaluated on their appearance, bearing, leadership, community involvement and job performance. The competing service members also appeared before a board where they performed drill and ceremony movements then were questioned about topics like first aid, leadership, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

“Everyone within CENTCOM is doing something with the war fighting effort so these individual service members sitting on the board were setting themselves above their peers,” Whitehead explained. “It shows that they’re willing to go above and beyond.”

Scoggin has advice for other service members who want to be in her shoes one day: “Constantly give your all in everything that you do, because it will pay off in one way or the other.” The Air Force sergeant, who said she likes to lead, added that service members should show they want additional responsibility.

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Tony Rucker, who was selected as CENTCOM’s U.S. Navy senior sailor of the year, also has tips on how to excel in the military: “Stay positive, keep a level head, and … be like a sponge,” soaking up knowledge from more experienced people. Rucker, who joined the Navy in 1996, credits his success to his senior leadership past and present.

Since arriving at CENTCOM in March 2010, Rucker has worked as a culinary specialist, preparing meals for CENTCOM’s senior leadership and visiting dignitaries. He also deploys regularly with the command’s top leaders.

“It’s a big responsibility,” Rucker said, “but I like to show my skills off and raise my hand [to volunteer] for anything I can do.”

Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Hirsch , who was selected as CENTCOM’s U.S. Air Force senior non-commissioned officer of the year,  established his own success through similar work ethic.

“I always strive for excellence in all that I do. I try to present a quality product the first time,” said Hirsch, He went on to say that his goal is to always leave things better than he found them.

Hirsch, who serves as the superintendent of the Command, Control, Communications and Computer (C4) Systems division, said he’s “excited” to have won this award.

“It feels pretty good,” said Hirsch, who joined the Air Force in September 1989. “It’s definitely an honor.”

Rucker, too, said he was honored to be selected and plans to give back by mentoring junior sailors so that one day they might be selected for the award he won.

“Go above and beyond, and I’m telling you, you will be recognized in the long run,” Rucker said.

The following awards were also presented:

Civilian of the Year – Category 1 (GS 1-10) – Kenneth J. Moser
Civilian of the Year – Category 2 (GS 11-13) – Steven M. Lesher
U.S. Air Force Junior Non-Commissioned Officer – Staff Sgt. Jared Engler
U.S. Army Junior Soldier – Sgt. David Pienik
U.S. Navy Junior Sailor – Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Elmini
U.S. Marine Corps Junior Marine – Sgt. Julian Saltzman
U.S. Marine Corps Senior Marine – Staff Sgt. Kenneth Thomas

The top Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps junior and senior troops were selected by boards made up of senior enlisted personnel specific to each respective service.