News: 4th Infantry Division’s outstanding enlisted receive honors
Story by Spc. William Howard
FORT CARSON, Colo.— Eleven service members representing the commands finest awaited the announcement of the Outstanding Enlisted Member of the year award during the annual Armed Forces luncheon, May 13.
“This is the biggest event we do and it’s focused on honoring the enlisted force of our armed services,” said Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer, Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. “We’re demonstrating support for the enlisted as well as educating the community about what the military means to this country.”
Each finalist received trophies for their accomplishments but only three of the nominees were recognized as the “best of the best” in the categories of junior enlisted, noncommissioned officer and senior noncommissioned officer.
Spc. Elizabeth Harris, communications specialist, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, won the junior enlisted category.
“I was really shocked to hear my name,” said Harris. “I couldn’t believe that I won because I felt like everyone deserved to win.”
Harris has volunteered as the Brigade Representative for the Raider Opportunity for Single Soldiers for more than two years; planning trips to boost morale in the brigade.
“I just want to help people and show them that not every person is trying to take advantage of them,” said Harris. “I want to show the good in people.”
Harris, a native of Blaine, Minn., said that she plans to continue volunteering with the Big Brother Big Sister Colorado program when she exits the Army.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Morris, intelligence sergeant, Company D, 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., was a finalist for the noncommissioned officer category and said he spends his off-time with his wife Emily volunteering with Designated Drivers of Colorado Springs.
“I volunteer because it gives me pride in what I do and a sense of accomplishment for giving someone a ride home, keeping them out of trouble and preventing a DUI,” said Morris.
Nominated by their respective organizations, each service member was chosen over their peers after winning a series of competitions on their installations and then vetted by a board of military veterans.
“A typical military board asks very forward questions while this board was more along the lines of asking your opinion or views,” said Sgt. 1st Class Maria McDonnell, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear staff noncommissioned officer, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., a finalist for the senior enlisted category.
The luncheon and awards have been hosted by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and Business Alliance Military Affairs Council for more than 25 years.
“This great community has always welcomed, respected and supported our military,” said Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, during his speech at the luncheon. “Our military members and their families are truly grateful for your far reaching generosity; in good times and in hard times.”