HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania National Guard has scoured its ranks of 17,000 enlisted members and announced the six members who have been recognized for outstanding leadership in 2009.
Each year, the enlisted men and women of the Pennsylvania Air and Army National Guard are candidates for Airman or Soldier of the Year or, for higher ranks, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
In the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, leadership reviewed 3,600 enlisted members in its ranks and chose the top Airman, Noncommissioned Officer and Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Airman Monica Erlick, 25, Pittsburgh, was selected as the Airman of the Year. She serves with the 171st Air Refueling Wing, 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron in Johnstown. She was deployed to Iraq last year and expects to serve overseas again in her job as an air traffic control radar operator. Erlick graduated from Upper Saint Clair High School in 2003 and Indiana University of Pennsylvania in December 2006.
Tech. Sgt. Thomas Cloonan, 31, Pittsburgh, was selected as the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. He serves with the 171st Air refueling Wing, 171st Medical Group in Coraopolis.
Senior Master Sgt. Scott Ball, 34, Campbelltown, operations superintendent and joint terminal attack controller for the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Indiantown Gap, was selected as the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Although it was an exhaustive statewide search, all three Army National Guard awardees are members of the 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, in Scranton.
Spc. Jonathan D. Hontz, 23, White Haven, a member of Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery in Scranton was selected as the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Soldier of the Year. Hontz, a student at Luzerne County Community College, and graduate of Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, decided to join the National Guard three years ago and said he chose to be a combat medic because he was interested in the medical profession, but he had other motivations, as well.
Staff Sgt. Joseph S. Parsons, 30, Wapwallopen, was selected as the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Parsons is a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry in Honesdale and is a graduate of Crestwood High School in Mountain Top and a student at Kings College, Wilkes-Barre. He joined the National Guard after serving nearly six years with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sgt. Adam R. Wendoloski, 31, Wilkes-Barre, was named recipient of the Lt. Gen. Milton G. Baker Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Award, which is based on a series of evaluation boards similar to those for the Soldier of the Year honor.
The coveted state award is named in honor of the founder of the Valley Forge Military Academy, who enlisted in the Army during World War I and served with distinction in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard from 1921 to 1946.
Wendoloski is a member of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armor, Sunbury.
(Copyright 2009 Newsroom Solutions, LLC)