35th ADA gives awards in honor of fallen comrades

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade held its semi-annual Memorial Leadership Awards board Nov. 6.

"The success of our brigade is dependent on the development of our junior leaders," said Col. John Rossi, 35th ADABDE commander. "These Memorial Leadership Awards honor our fallen comrades by recognizing those Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers who exemplify the best of what they stood for."

There are three different awards: one category for Soldiers, one for NCOs and one for officers, respectively. The Pfc. Jesus A. Najera Memorial Outstanding Soldier Award is given to the Soldier in the brigade who is the finest example of a warrior, leader, athlete, servant to the nation and has made great contributions to the unit and community.

The Outstanding Soldier Award is of particular importance to the 35th ADA family. Pfc. Jesus A. Najera was a Soldier in Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th ADA BDE, who passed away in June of this year.

The recipient of the first ever Pfc. Najera Memorial Award is Spc. Jacob Smith of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 35th ADA BDE here.

"This is really an honor for me," said Spc. Smith. "For one reason, it was my first Soldier board ever. The other reason is that Pfc. Najera, from all that I have learned of him, was a fine Soldier, a great person, always high spirited and would do whatever was needed in order to get the job done.

"To be nominated for this award, Soldiers must show some of the same qualities. It is an honor to know my superiors think I have those qualities."

The award that recognizes excellence in NCO leadership is named in honor of 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy. The 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy Memorial Leadership Award is given to an NCO within the brigade who most exemplifies the Soldier and NCO Creed and has made great leadership contributions to the unit.

The award honors the memory of the late 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, former first sergeant of the 507th Maintenance Company. The winner of the 1st Sgt. Dowdy award is Staff Sgt. Lyvia H. Barrow of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Camp Carroll.

The Lt. Col. Larry H. Pruitt Memorial Leadership Award is given to the company grade officer within the brigade who most exemplifies the Army values and the Warrior Ethos.

The award honors the memory of the late Colonel Larry H. Pruitt, former commander of 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

The recipient of the Pruitt Award was Capt. Martin Plys, the commander of Foxtrot Maintenance Company, 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Suwon.

"Competing for the colonel Pruitt award is humbling when you consider the caliber of the many great officers in 35th ADA Brigade," said Captain Plys. "Colonel Pruitt left a great legacy in the many Soldiers, NCOs, and officers he influenced during his Army service."

"These three are the best of the best and they epitomize Army excellence," said Colonel Rossi. "These are the young leaders who will raise the bar and lead the Army into the future."