Aviation brigade’s newest Soldier up for the challenge

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Kentucky National Guard Spc. Madison Witzleb’s smile and positive attitude keeps the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade’s Tactical Operations Center a little less stressful during USARNORTH’s Vibrant Response 2015 exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Witzleb, an aviation operations specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, is the newest member of the 63TAB, and said her first annual training with the brigade was challenging and fun. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — There’s always that one. The young Soldier, fresh out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT), who shows up, loves the Army and smiles a lot.

For Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, it’s Spc. Madison Witzleb. She can run through the tactical operations center, affectionately known as the “TOC-mahal,” and if you blink, you’d miss her. She’s got a voice that will command even the hardest of hearing to attention if a distinguished visitor walks in. And a smile that her leaders and fellow Soldiers say can make any long day of training seem better.

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Kentucky National Guard State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley presents Spc. Madison Witzleb, aviation operations specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, with his challenge coin April 23, at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Witzleb was nominated by leadership to receive the coin for her motivation and determination to tackle every task with a positive attitude. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

“Spc. Witzleb is constantly looking for ways to better herself and is never satisfied with just doing what she has been asked to do,” said Sgt. Maj. Kevin Wilkins, aviation operations chief for 63rd TAB. “She displays a willingness to learn as much as she can and she always has a smile on her face.

“My advice to our young Soldiers,” Wilkins said is, “display the same enthusiasm and dedication that Spc. Witzleb does.”

That passion for success is what makes Witzleb stand out in the crowd, and what landed her front and center before State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley April 23. The 18-year-old aviation operations specialist was the first 63rd TAB Soldier to receive a coin during the unit’s annual training in support of Vibrant Response, which also happened to be her first coin ever.

“My face turned 50-shades of red,” she said, “but I was able to smile because I was on an excitement rush. I’d never received a coin before that.”

The challenge coins, a military tradition, are presented in recognition of special achievement. Witzleb was nominated by leadership to receive the coin for her professional work ethic and balanced attitude.

Witzleb said her first coin is something she will remember for a while, “the first words I said were: ‘I finally have one my dad doesn’t have!’”

Competition is in her blood. She was on her high school rifle team, plays golf, runs like the wind, and hopes that being in the Guard will help her compete with – and exceed her older brother’s physical fitness abilities.

“One day I will be able to beat him,” she said.

Besides the competition, her family is also good for inspiration, she said. Her father had a large impact on her decision to join the military, and her mother’s advice has kept her going, especially this AT when she really didn’t know what to expect.

“Coming into this (Vibrant Response) as my first exercise, it was nerve racking,” she said. “I was afraid of not being able to succeed in my tasked position.

“My mother always taught me to hold my head up high, even in a time of doubt,” she said. “I love a good challenge and this exercise holds up to its name.”

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Kentucky National Guard Spc. Madison Witzleb’s smile and positive attitude keeps the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade’s Tactical Operations Center a little less stressful during USARNORTH’s Vibrant Response 2015 exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Witzleb, an aviation operations specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, is the newest member of the 63TAB, and said her first annual training with the brigade was challenging and fun. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

As the newest member of the 63rd TAB, Witzleb has many more challenges ahead for her Guard career. She’ll attend Morehead State University this fall to study criminology and take Reserve Officer Training Corps classes. She’s looking forward to also earning her status as a Kentucky Woman Veteran.

“Being a female veteran who can succeed in this career is an amazing accomplishment,” Witzleb said.

“I know many more have come before me, and they are providing some very large boots to fill,” she said, “but I am up for the challenge.”

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