MADISON, WI (WNG) - By 1st Lt. Joe Trovato, Wisconsin National Guard
Wisconsin's top Army National Guard recruiter is now officially the best in the nation.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mannel, a Wisconsin Army National Guard recruiter from New Richmond, Wis., advanced to the national competition for the National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer of the Year award in Nashville. He brought home the ultimate prize.
After advancing to regional competition, which included the top recruiters from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota, Mannel was named one of the nation's Expert 7, a distinction reserved for the top recruiting noncommissioned officer in each of the nation's seven recruiting regions.
When he arrived in Nashville for the Jan. 15 board, he was well-prepared.
"I felt confident, because I'd been there before, and I did the regional one. But you never know what they are going to ask you," he said. "You don't know if they're going to throw you a curveball, so I was touching up on the (noncommissioned officer) creed, the Soldier's creed and all the questions they've asked in the past and just trying to stay proficient on some questions I thought they might ask."
Mannel's wife, Jill, quizzed him on potential board questions each night before the couple went to bed, and Master Sgt. Jason Meyers, Mannel's platoon sergeant in the Eau Claire-based Detachment 1, Company A of Wisconsin's Recruiting and Retention Battalion, setup a mock board with command sergeants major from Wisconsin to help prepare him for the board he'd face in the national competition.
Meyers is an award-winning noncommissioned officer himself. He and Mannel became the first duo from the same state in recent history to win both major recruiting command awards. He was named as the region's top noncommissioned officer in charge.
Their hard work paid off in the end as Mannel cruised to victory in Nashville. He had advanced to the national competition once before in 2010 and came up short of the ultimate prize. That experience set the stage for his victorious return trip, where he became the first National Guard Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer of the Year from Wisconsin in recent memory.
"It's a big accomplishment just to know that Wisconsin can do it, and it just paid off - all the hard work over the last three or four years," Mannel said after the competition.
"We are extremely proud of his accomplishment," remarked Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin's deputy adjutant general for Army. "We recognize that this honor is the result of a lot of hard work on his part. His success in recruitment and seeing his new Soldiers through their training is a reflection of not only his professionalism, but the type of Soldier and noncommissioned officers we have in the Wisconsin Army National Guard."
Each competitor was judged based on their performance before a board of command sergeants major representing each recruiting region. The judges also assessed each candidate based on a review of their backgrounds, their recruiting prowess, and the total Soldier concept. Each candidate was judged on the number of recruits they signed and the number that made it through the Army's training pipeline.
Mannel was judged to be the best.
He will be formally recognized as the nation's top National Guard recruiter at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. in April.