News: Falcon paratrooper named Army’s Outstanding New Broadcaster of the Year
Story by Sgt. Eliverto Larios
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Nestled in an office on Fort Bragg, N.C., sits a young sergeant. He sits behind the desk, under an orange and black Oklahoma State University flag, with a set of headphones wrapped around his ears and a computer mouse in his right hand. All his attention is focused on the computer screen in front of him that plays a video of a paratrooper maneuvering through intense training in the backwoods of the base.
He makes adjustments to the video as needed to meet his expectations. For Sgt. William Reinier, a public affairs broadcast specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, those expectations he has set for himself has earned an accomplishment that can only be reached a single time each for only the best Army broadcasters.
Reinier, 27, was recently named the Army’s 2014 Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs “Rising Star” for Outstanding New Broadcaster. The award recognizes a soldier with less than two years’ experience in the broadcasting career field and their achievements towards meeting the Army’s public affairs objectives.
Reinier won the award only 11 months after beginning his broadcasting career. For him, the award is one thing that truly defines the career of those in public affairs. Looking up to his advanced individual training instructors at the Defense Information School, Reinier became an ambitious broadcaster who always strives for more.
“You hear, throughout the school, of people who won the award and you take it with you,” said Reinier. “You look up to them because they’re supposed to be the best of the best. If you want to do more than just come to work and punch the time clock, this is what sets you apart from everyone else in the career field.”
The Oklahoma native hasn’t always been making videos. In 2009, he enlisted in the Army as a combat engineer.
“It was important for me to be airborne,” he said. “When we looked at the jobs, we basically just filtered all the jobs that were available by which one guaranteed a contract to airborne school.”
When combat engineer came up, Reinier said he thought it would be an amazing experience to deploy in a combat military occupation specialty. In 2011, he deployed with his unit in support of Operation New Dawn. Upon returning from his deployment and achieving that goal, Reinier said he knew it was time for a change in career. However, his original intent was to be a public affairs specialist.
“Originally, I wanted to be a 46Q but when my reenlistment window was open, there were no training seats available,” he said.
Broadcasting was available though, and having had experience in video editing in high school, he gave the alternative some thought. Reinier said that before December, 2012, he had never used a professional camera before and had never seen the software that he uses today.
“I was really, really hesitant because I thought I wanted to write and do press releases and learn public affairs,” said Reinier. “I didn’t realize just how similar the two jobs were. I really thought that I would only be doing radio and video. I didn’t think that this job had anything to do with public affairs at all.”
Being named “Top Graduate” of his class, Reinier was reassigned back to 2nd BCT. The brigade’s public affairs office had two other Paratroopers who were also brand new to the public affairs field. Reinier said he knew in that moment that his new career path was going to be challenging. The team of new public affairs noncommissioned officers set to work, making the calls necessary to meet their goals.
“Instead of going out and doing 60-second stories on an entire Expert Infantry Badge testing, we went out everyday and we did daily updates from the field,” said Reinier. “Stuff like that has never been seen before in the brigade and so we changed the whole notion of what brigade public affairs was.”
Reinier credits Staff Sgt. Jason Hull and Staff Sgt. Dillon Heyliger for their success as a brigade public affairs shop.
“Between us three, we all bring something different to the table. (Staff) Sgt. Hull does a great job in that noncommissioned officer-in-charge role to keep us in check and to keep us all level-headed and pull us back into line whenever we start to kind of stray off,” said Reinier. “(Staff) Sgt. Heyliger is someone I can bounce ideas off of. We are on the same level whenever we go out to shoot. We work together so fluently, it’s like having a third arm or a second set of hands.”
Now, Reinier says that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the training that is going on.
“At first we had to prove ourselves. It was tough in the beginning to get out there,” said Reinier. “Now people are requesting us by name, calling our cellphones. There is almost too much out there for us to cover.”
For the Falcon Paratrooper, winning the award doesn’t mean he has reached his limits. He claims that it puts a little more pressure on him to achieve more.
“Now everything that I do has to be good; it raises the expectations for me,” he said. “Now that I won the ‘Rising Star’ this year, I want to win the best news story. The year after that I want to win the journalist of the year. It kind of gives me motivation to win more awards.”
Reinier also gives credit to his wife for being supportive of what he does.
“She is really proud of my accomplishments,” he said. “I think she really likes that I do this job now as opposed to being in a combat occupation. She’s also my toughest critic.”
The ambitious Paratrooper realizes that at one point, he’s going to have to make room for the next generation of broadcasters. He says that’s not going to stop him, however, from making an impact and sharing the advice that he once received.
“I know that one day, I’m going to have to put the camera down and I’m going to have to lead the next generation of broadcasters, so I’m just trying to enjoy it. Someone once told me to ‘give it as freely as you got it,’” said Reinier. “I’m going to have a Soldier who comes up and wants to be great and I’m going to see that in them. It’s going to make me remember what it was like to be in their shoes and I’m going to do everything I can to help them.”
Until that time comes, Reinier plans on pushing forward with his career. He said he doesn’t plan on just stopping at being journalist of the year, but wants to reach the rank and position of regimental sergeant major for public affairs.
“I look to my left and to my right at the folks in my career field and think, ‘Why not? Why can’t I lead these soldiers one day?’” he said.
For now, he plans on reenlisting to stay in the 82nd Abn. Div. and continue to make videos and tell the story of the Paratroopers here: the thing that he now enjoys doing the most.
“I love what I do. Coming to work for me doesn’t really feel like work. I have a lot to do and that gets overwhelming sometimes, but I just really enjoy going out making videos and telling the brigade’s story,” he said. “I may tell 1,000 stories in my career about different things, but for each person that I do a video on, that might be the only time they get to tell their story. I kind of owe it to them to do a good job.”