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Army leaders recognize top recruiters for recent success

By Sean Kimmons Army News Service

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WASHINGTON -- Army leaders honored some of the force's top recruiters at a ceremony Wednesday for their efforts in placing nearly 200 recruits in uniform during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Sixteen recruiters from across U.S. Army Recruiting Command were recognized at the ceremony inside the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, including two staff sergeants from the same recruiting station in California.

Through October to December, the recruiters accessed a combined total of 185 new recruits. Of them, two medical recruiters had 15 board-selected officers, while a special operations recruiter accessed 34 -- equal to 40 percent of his station's annual objective, said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commander of USAREC.

The general called all of them "rock star recruiters" since they enlisted more than seven times the amount their peers did during the same time period.

With many of the 1,400 recruiting stations located away from Army posts, Muth said recruiters face one of the most difficult jobs in the service.

"They live so far away from the flag, yet every day they get up and they are laser-focused," he said.

Recruiters also must handle rejection since, on average, they receive 40 "nos" to one "yes" as they attempt to fill the ranks with quality Soldiers.

"So it's no, no, no until one yes and emotionally that takes a huge amount of strength," Muth said. "They live in a tyranny of distance and they swim in a sea of rejection, yet they're still winners and still accomplish the mission."

Before the ceremony, E. Casey Wardynski, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said he spoke to the recruiters to understand what motivates them.

"They love their country, they believe it's worth defending," Wardynski said. "And they tell that story to young Americans across the United States."

By telling their story, recruiters can convey the importance of being a Soldier that may not always be accurately portrayed in pop culture, media and movies, he added.

"They talk about the challenges, but they also talk about the rewards," he said, adding that Soldiers can still have fulfilling lives while serving. "What they're doing is sharing with other Americans the Army as a way of life."

Ever since the Army returned to a volunteer force in 1972, Wardynski said recruiters have been the front door step to bringing people into an organization that cares about them.

"Before that, labor came to the Army for free," he said. "Anybody knows that something that is given to you for free, you just don't treat it the same as something you had to earn.

"Our Army is much different than the draft Army, and it's a much better Army because Americans aren't free. It's tough to bring them in. [But] because of the work you do, we value them all the more when they join our ranks."

After the remarks, leaders presented each recruiter with a coin in a presentation box, a Titan stainless steel watch and the Meritorious Service Medal for exceeding mission requirements.

The recruiters recognized included:

-- 1st Recruiting Brigade: Sgt. 1st Class Yendugnoan Bombome, Baltimore Battalion-Baltimore, Maryland; Staff Sgt. Harry Palomino, New York City Battalion-Bronx, New York

-- 2nd Recruiting Brigade: Staff Sgt. Corey Tarr, Atlanta Battalion-Columbus, Georgia; Sgt. Carlos GarciaVelazquez, Miami Battalion-Caguas, Puerto Rico

-- 3rd Recruiting Brigade: Staff Sgt. Leonard Markley, Cleveland Battalion-Toledo, Ohio; Staff Sgt. Tamara Robinson, Chicago Battalion--Chicago; Staff Sgt. Louis Sanchez, Indianapolis Battalion--Avon, Indiana; Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Velez, Nashville Battalion--Oak Ridge Tennessee

-- 5th Recruiting Brigade: Staff. Sgt. Michael Kerr, Dallas Battalion--Terrell, Texas; Staff Sgt. Shoshana Maya, Houston Battalion-Conroe, Texas; Sgt. Buaya Adhikari, San Antonio Battalion--Live Oak, Texas

-- 6th Recruiting Brigade: Staff Sgt. Alejandro Maganalopez, Southern California Battalion--El Centro, California; Staff Sgt. Rawlings Nekpenekpen, Southern California Battalion--El Centro, California

-- Medical Recruiting Brigade: Sgt. 1st Class Michael Schlag, 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion--Raleigh, North Carolina; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Thomas, 6th Medical Recruiting Battalion--San Diego, California

-- Special Operations Recruiting Battalion: Sgt. 1st Class Brian Baxer, Fort Campbell, Kentucky