News: Deployed Field Artillerymen recognize K-State basketball player
Story by Jordan Chapman
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Though they are 6,681 miles away supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq, the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team command team presented the “Never Broken” award in front of the more than 400 in attendance at the 2011 Kansas State University Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet in Bramlage Coliseum April 27.
Commemorating the partnership between the Wildcats and the “First Lightning” Battalion, the “Never Broken” award is given only to those who embody the unit’s motto, “Never Broken By Hardship Or Battle,” by demonstrating courage and perseverance in overcoming adversity.
Lt. Col. Andrew Gainey, unit commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. William Bauer, unit command sergeant major, were unable to present the award this year in person due to their deployment, so 1st Inf. Div. Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Champagne and Gainey’s wife, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Sophie Gainey, did the honors.
Though the lighting was lower and the stands were missing the 15,000 loyal KSU fans, the excitement was still palpable as Champagne announced the award to those sitting at dozens of banquet tables.
Jamar Samuels, KSU’s 6-foot-7 forward, was announced as the recipient of the award. It was noted that Samuels was the most appropriate for this honor because of his proven versatility and dependability on the team.
His role on the team had changed throughout the season and no matter his position, he constantly exceeded expectation.
Described as a self-starter, Samuels didn’t begin the season as a starter for the Wildcats, but rose through the ranks and found himself in the starting lineup before long. It was his dedication; his willingness to whatever it takes that earned him the award.
The history behind the award is long and distinguished. “Whether in the frozen wars in Germany in World War I, the beaches of Normandy in World War II, the jungles of Vietnam or, most recently, the sands of Iraq and southwest Asia, the First Lightning soldiers have remained never broken,” Champagne said.
“The regiment earned [its] motto because of their fearless courage in battle,” Champagne said, likening the Army’s seven values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage to everything Samuels and the basketball team represent on and off the court.
“There is nothing more exciting to us as a division … than when it was game day here at Kansas State University,” Champagne continued, expressing the extreme value in the partnership currently harbored between the 1st Inf. Div. and KSU.
The partnership not only represents camaraderie between two precise and efficient organizations, the KSU basketball team motivates soldiers who are overseas.
Relaying the deployed Lt. Col. Gainey’s sentiments, Champagne sincerely thanked the team for everything they do and for the dedication they inspire in the troops at Joint Security Station Loyalty, a U.S. base near Baghdad.
“There is not a day that goes by, or a game that goes by, that the soldiers don’t watch the men’s basketball team. I’ve witnessed it,” Champagne noted, describing his own experience with soldiers watching the game at 3 a.m.
“I know the bond this team has formed with the soldiers of the First Lightning Battalion is one that just continues to get stronger,” he continued, eager for the next season and ready to support such a great partnership, one of eight between Fort Riley and the KSU athletics department.