KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A Nevada National Guardsman received a surprise New Year's Day gift in the form of a battlefield promotion, Jan. 1.
U.S. Army Spec. David Ellis, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team security force gunner and driver deployed from the Nevada National Guard's 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry Regiment, was promoted to the grade of E-5 for demonstrating extraordinary job performance while serving in combat conditions.
"I'm very happy... it's a personal gain," said Ellis, a native of Las Vegas, Nev. "I've had my E-4 rank for close to five years and it was something I had my mind set on to get my E-5. I've been recognized because I've busted my butt to prove myself."
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Stewart Brough, SECFOR platoon leader, relished the chance to recognize one of his soldiers with a battlefield promotion.
"It's a really good feeling when you get to stand in front of your troops and recognize one of them for being outstanding," said Brough, a native of Fruit Heights, Utah. "He (Ellis) is deserving of this recognition."
After helping pin Ellis' new rank on him, U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Copley, Ellis' supervisor, praised the newest member of the NCO corps.
"Ellis is an exceptional Soldier ... by far one of the best people I've had the pleasure of serving with," said Copley, a native of Las Vegas, Nev. "He deserves this promotion."
The battlefield promotion program started as a one-year trial program in April 2008 and was made a permanent practice in June 2009. Ellis was one of eight Regional Command-East soldiers, out of approximately 25,000, to receive a battlefield promotion on New Year's Day.
"Sgt Ellis is the kind of person you go to get stuff done and he never complains," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Samuel West, PRT executive officer and a resident of Phoenix, Ariz. "He always keeps safe and does a great job."
Ellis said a positive, can-do attitude will help soldiers achieve their goals.
"If you do as you're told, don't complain and get the job done, rewards will come to those who do what they're supposed to do," Ellis said.
Ellis said receiving the promotion as a National Guard soldier was satisfying because it showed the value of each solider, regardless of duty status.
"Being a Guardsman, it was a real honor getting the promotion," Ellis said. "I'm just like every other soldier. I put my uniform and boots on the same way as any other active duty soldier."
Ellis was quick to praise his employer back home, American 5 hotels, for their support.
"I'm head of security for Americana 5 hotel chain back in Las Vegas, and my employer has been very supportive of me doing my Army duty," Ellis said.
The battlefield promotion program gives commanders a special tool to recognize enlisted soldiers for doing their jobs above and beyond what is expected of them under combat conditions. Final approval for these promotions is the commander of U.S. Army Central Command.
Nearly a 1,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers have received battlefield promotions to staff sergeant and below since April 2008. To qualify for battlefield promotion, soldiers must be serving in a position and demonstrate the skills of the rank to which they're being promoted.
A soldier is eligible for only one battlefield promotion to an NCO rank, and the promotion must not be used as a reward in lieu of personal commendations or awards.