A Nikiski High School teacher and Alaska National Guardsmen received national recognition this summer for his military achievements after winning the Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year award for U.S. Army Pacific.
Staff Sgt. Troy Zimmerman was among 16 soldiers and airmen recognized for outstanding achievements during ceremonies in Washington D.C.
The NCO of the year must win a series of competitions to garner the honor, "We did the physical fitness test, a 50 question written test, we did drill and ceremony, we did common task testing, which is hands on soldier skills, and then we also appeared before the highest ranking enlisted soldiers in the state before a selection board as well," said Zimmerman.
After winning the state award, Zimmerman advanced to the national competition in Hawaii last April, where he didn't feel he had done all that well, "After the nationals my wife and I were invited to Washington D.C., but I really didn't feel I was going to be taking home the award, because I didn't feel I had done all that well at nationals. So when they called my name and announced that I was winner of the competition, I felt a surge of pride and a bit of surprise as well," said Zimmerman, who has been a Guardsman for 18 years.
The national award was given based on one appearance before a board of the highest-ranking enlisted members in the Pacific Command of the Army.
Since September 11th, Zimmerman sees the role of the National Guard taking on more importance. "Just in the training that I see in my soldiers, I think that there is a rejuvenated sense of duty and patriotism and responsibility that if we are called out again that we will be well trained and prepared to assist in whatever the mission may be at the highest level that we possibly can," said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman began his career in the Alaska Guard in 1989 after serving in the Minnesota Army Guard. He works as an infantry scout team leader and has volunteered to support several disasters while serving in Alaska, according to the Alaska Military Weekly report. He went on active duty during the Kenai River Flood in 1995 and then again in 1996 for the Big Lake Fire. In 2001 Zimmerman supported the Special Olympic Winter Games in Girdwood. He is now back at Nikiski High School, where he teaches Spanish and History. He and his wife have two sons and a daughter.
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