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FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – United States Army Alaska held the Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Quarter Luncheon at Fort Wainwright’s Northern Lights Chapel, Oct. 22, 2014.

The guest speaker, USARAK Command Sgt. Maj. Terry D. Gardner, honored those selected as the top NCO and Soldier of the USARAK forces at Fort Wainwright for both the 3rd and 4th quarters. With the Stryker brigade’s high training op-tempo, an upcoming National Training Center rotation, and a myriad of other post and unit activities, the recognition for two quarters was combined into one ceremony.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure we would get this thing going,” Gardner said. “But when they told me that it was happening today, I had to make this trip.”

After thanking everyone for taking time from their busy schedules to attend, he recognized distinguished guests and sponsors from the local community. Representatives of Alaska delegates from local Fairbanks Offices included Tom Moyer, Regional Director for Senator Mark Begich, Althea St. Martin, Special Assistant for Senator Liza Murkowski, and Sydney McIntosh Intern- Governor’s Office representing Governor Parnell.

Gardner also took a moment to mention his gratitude to the United States Army Association, the 9th Army Band and the local “Jackie Of All Trades” full-service catering.

Addressing the Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers of the 3rd and 4th Quarter, his theme was on what it means to be a hero. “In my eyes,” Gardner said, “to be a United States service member, and to be counted among the best in that group, makes you a hero in the truest sense of that word.”

Asking young leaders to consider what their legacy would be, as “Soldiers in the greatest army in the history of the world,” Gardner added: “We inherited a rich history, and we are obligated to carry that forward.”

Designated as the best of the best, he gave them a call to action.

“Each of you is part of an elite group of heroes who have put service to our nation over self or family. You have dedicated yourself to making this world a better, safer and more peaceful place, now and for future generations,” Gardner said. “We need you to instill that pride in our soldiers.”

Congratulating them again for winning such a tough competition, he awarded each of the four Soldiers an Army Commendation Medal.

The Non-Commissioned Officer of 3rd and 4th Quarter were Sgt. Daniel P. Powell, C Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and Sgt. Rhea J. Pettaway, the 539th Transportation Company, the 25th Brigade Support Battalion, 1-25th SBCT.

Sgt. Powell, originally from Santa Cruz, California, joined the army in 2009. He has been on active duty for five years, and he reenlisted to come to Fort Wainwright. In addition to being a Squad Leader, his duties include being a Unit Movement Officer, Scout and Senior Sniper Section Leader. He is currently pursuing a degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he holds a 4.0 GPA. His goals include getting promoted to Staff Sergeant and attending Ranger School, and he plans to stay on active duty until he can retire from the military.

Sgt. Pettaway, originally from San Fernando, California, joined the military in 2007. Her job specialty is Motor Transport Operator, and her first assignment was to Camp Casey, South Korea. She next served at Fort Hood, Texas, and was deployed to Kirkuk Iraq as a Security Platform Driver as part of the Quick Reaction Force there. After redeploying, she requested to come to Fort Wainwright, Alaska. She is currently working on an online degree in Healthcare Administration through the University of Management and Technology in Arlington, Virginia.

The Soldiers of the 3rd and 4th Quarter were Pfc. Tyee C. Yucupisio, C Company, 1-24th Infantry Regiment, and recently promoted, Sgt. Jonathan Hunt, C Company 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment.

Pfc. Yucupisio was born in Coolidge, Arizona. He graduated from high school in 2011 and joined the army in May 2013. This is his first assignment. He holds a position as rifleman and grenadier, and he recently received the top scores in his platoon on the Army Physical Fitness Test. His plans include getting a degree in Computer Science and aspiring to someday become a Sergeant Major

Sgt. Jonathan Hunt became an NCO October 1, 2014. Originally from Denver Colorado, he joined the Army in 2012 as an Infantryman. Fort Wainwright is his first duty assignment, where he serves as a Team Leader. His goals include staying in the military and going to Airborne and Ranger School. He plans on working towards a degree in Criminal Justice and is shooting for the rank of Sergeant First Class.

Along with the Association of the United States Army, other community leaders were present to give small tokens of their gratitude in recognition of the outstanding efforts and a job well done. Among those attending was Timothy Jones, representing Doyon Utilities in Fairbanks, who presented each Soldier with a gift card and an emergency vehicle kit.

Free AUSA memberships, Certificates of Achievement, ball caps, Leatherman tools, a book of Photographs of Alaska, and monetary gifts were given as well. These were given by Bill Brophy from the Usibellli Foundation, Command Sgt. Maj. Travis D. Votaw, representing the Arctic Sgt. Maj. Association, along with other guests from the Community Spouses Club, MAC Federal Credit Union and Design Alaska.