Kentucky honors best Soldiers, Airmen of the year

By Sgt. Maggie Booker, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The 2017 Kentucky Army and Air National Guard’s Outstanding Soldiers and Airmen of the Year were honored with the Kentucky’s Enlisted Exceptional Performance Award (K.E.E.P) during a ceremony March 4, in Louisville, Ky.  The Airmen and Soldiers were recognized for having exceptional leadership skills and for their performance in warrior tasks. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Maggie Booker)

The 2017 Kentucky Army and Air National Guard’s Outstanding Soldiers and Airmen of the Year were honored with the Kentucky’s Enlisted Exceptional Performance Award (K.E.E.P) during a ceremony March 4, in Louisville, Ky. The Airmen and Soldiers were recognized for having exceptional leadership skills and for their performance in warrior tasks. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Maggie Booker)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2017 Kentucky Army and Air National Guard’s Outstanding Soldiers and Airmen of the Year were honored during an awards presentation March 4, in Louisville, Kentucky.

“This (award ceremony) validates the efforts we put in for our family, friends, and support systems,” said Master Sgt. Jason Sanderson, Aircraft Maintenance Flight Chief with the 123rd Contingency Response Group, 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard.

Sanderson was selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard Outstanding Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the year. He has been mobilized to five countries in the past year and has excelled in his leadership positions at his home station.

The ceremony centered on military traditions, brought members of the Kentucky Guard together to showcase the outstanding efforts of the soldiers and airmen who participated in the 2017 competition.

Each award winner was able to showcase their individual goals and motivations during short video clips played before the presentation of the Kentucky’s Enlisted Exceptional Performance Award (K.E.E.P.).

Sgt. James Barnett, Artillery Crew member with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion 623rd Field Artillery said that the knowledge, physical readiness, and stress management challenges presented by this competition taught him that he can succeed at anything.

Barnett, the Outstanding NCO of the Year, has proven his success in his civilian life as well. He is the first in his family to be on track to graduate college and plans to become a conservation officer with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Despite their varying motivations, each service members expressed a common interest in bettering their units through their hard work and dedication. They will continue representing their unit in the regional competition, which takes place in April at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky.

The annual competition is not only a way to represent the service members’ skills, but also to motivate others to raise the bar and strive greatness, said Barnett.

“Do not strive to be the Airman or Soldier of the year, but strive to be significant and impact as many Soldiers and Airmen throughout your journey,” said Sanderson. “That above all things will get you this type of recognition.”

Also recognized at the award ceremony were; Army Sgt, 1st Class Timothy Lewis, Outstanding Senior NCO, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Timothy D. Baker, Outstanding NCO, Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel P. Keller, Outstanding Airman, and Army Spc. Zachary M. Cox, Outstanding Soldier.