By Spcs. Tarell J. Bilbo and Megan Zander, Louisiana National Guard
NEW ORLEANS – Soldiers from the Louisiana Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Command accepted a coveted award on behalf of the state during the Region V Strength Maintenance Advisory Council conference in Kansas City, Kansas, Oct. 24.
The Salem 1636 Award of Excellence, which draws its name from the founding of the National Guard on Dec. 13, 1636, in Salem, Massachusetts, goes to the state with the highest overall accomplishment in strength maintenance as measured by recruiting, retention, and attrition. Louisiana earned the award by focusing recruiting efforts on filling unit vacancies and focusing attrition management and retention efforts on reducing turnover and maintaining more qualified Soldiers in their units, the Army National Guard and the United States Army.
“The Salem 1636 is an award to be enjoyed by the entire organization, from general to private on the ground,” said Col. Kenneth P. Donnelly, commander of the RRC. “It speaks to the teamwork of every leader and Soldier assigned to the Louisiana Army National Guard.”
Louisiana was the only state in Region V, also consisting of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, to reach 98 percent of the assigned mission for recruiting.
The award comes shortly after the LANG was ranked number one for its retention numbers in fiscal year 2015. Its end-strength goal of 9,554 Soldiers was surpassed with a total of 9,650 Soldiers, or 101 percent.
“This award goes to show the high level of professionalism and dedication our recruiters put forth year after year,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the LANG. “People see the opportunities we provide and the work we do, whether it be all-hazards response, overseas deployments or community engagement, and they want to serve their state and nation with us.”
Also during the conference, individual awards were given to the top performing recruiters in Region V.
LANG Master Sgt. Jimmy D. Hotard Jr. was named an “Expert 7,” the distinction for the top
“It means a lot to be the first person from Louisiana to win the Expert 7 in over ten years,” remarked Hotard. “I couldn’t do it without my great team of supporters. It felt great to be the guy to bring it back.”
As the regional recruiting NCOIC of the Year, Hotard will go on to compete at a national competition in San Antonio in December.
Another notable accomplishment was that LANG Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Taylor placed third for Recruiter of the Year.
“Recruiting, to me, is about benefitting the kids. It’s about giving them the opportunity to be successful,” said Taylor. “I want them to have an understanding of what they’re signing on for. I want them to be excited about it and ultimately become a productive Soldier.”
The competing recruiters had to demonstrate knowledge in categories such as Army programs, leadership, physical readiness training, retention, the Recruit Sustainment Program, duties and responsibilities of an NCO and the history of their state’s National Guard.
“The individual awards that Master Sgt. Hotard and Staff Sgt.Taylor received signifies their work ethic and professionalism to be the best at what they do,” said Donnelly. “They epitomize all of the traits and qualities of a top Soldier, NCO, and recruiter of the Louisiana Army National Guard. I am proud of these two NCOs.”