FORT RILEY, Kan. - A 1st Infantry Division Band member was awarded the Col. Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award exhibit for outstanding musical and leadership excellence, Fort Riley, Feb. 24.
Spc. Christopher Cotton, 1st Infantry Division Band was awarded the coveted award for excellence in community volunteering and leadership.
“I feel honored. I didn’t expect anything like that to come my way. It’s good for me and it’s good for the band for one of us to be recognized like this,” Cotten said.
The Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award acknowledges U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard enlisted musicians, and honors the memory of Col. Finley R. Hamilton, U.S Army Retired, who succumbed to cancer while serving as president of the National Band Association.
The awardees are exclusively selected from nominations from by each commander or officer-in-charge of each military music organization.
Cotten volunteered his off-duty time to embrace the opportunity to lead the Junction City Little Theater community musical “A Wonderful Life,” assisted in the production of the musical “Annie” at the same theater and participated as a trombone and euphonium player with the Junction City Community Band for the summer 2013.
Cotten’s volunteerism doesn’t stop there. He also has volunteered at the nearby Kansas State University Tuba-Euphonium studio and was a soloist as part of their “Octubafest.”
Hard work was instilled in Cotten long before the Army with strong family values.
“My parents fostered an positive environment to be successful in school,” Cotten said.
“He has always been a hard worker,” Stacey Cotton, wife of Spc. Cotten, said. “I met him in college and he was the section leader of the sousaphones in the marching band in our sophomore year and I thought he was a senior because he was in charge of everything.”
Military and music are tied in with the culture and the ethos of every military around the world and each are absolutely bound together, Brig. Christopher Ghika, 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for readiness said.
Musicians in the Army must be both an outstanding soldier and an expert at their craft.
Cotten also maintains the unit’s sponsorship program, arms room maintenance plan, and as a band operations representative he allowed the unit to focus on music by ensuring that soldiers were ready to serve. Cotton furthermore exhibited his leadership by graduating on the Commandant’s List of his Warrior Leader Course and earning promotable status to sergeant.