Staff Sgt. Patrick Jennings, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Missouri Army National Guard, stands behind the many awards he received in front of his fellow artillerymen of Battery A, 1-129th Field Artillery on Dec. 1 at the Albany armory. (Submitted Photo)
By Jennifer Archdekin
ALBANY, Mo. - Staff Sgt. Patrick Jennings, of Columbia, is the reigning Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Missouri Army National Guard. On Dec. 1 at the Albany armory, he was presented with an Army Commendation Medal for achieving the title, as well as a Meritorious Service Medal for distinguishing himself with the unit in other areas throughout the year.
Jennings, who serves with Battery A, 1-129th Field Artillery, battled though the progressive competition making it through various levels within the state to ultimately be on top.
Though he earned the title earlier this year, Jennings was recognized in front of his fellow artillerymen for his great accomplishment and the light he shone on the northwest corner of the state.
"I'm just proud to be a part of making Alpha Battery be the best," said Jennings. "I couldn't have done any of this without the unit backing me. I would say my unit gave me the leg up. The atmosphere this unit creates instills a sense of self accountability. You want to do better and you perform well because you're not doing it for yourself, you're doing it for the unit."
Jennings said this was one of the toughest competitions he's ever had and a lot of his success came down to preparation.
"Some of the toughest competition came from within my own battalion while just getting to the state level," said Jennings. "It came down to preparation and whoever prepared the most. One of the most stressful parts was studying for the board. That's really a big deal."
Jennings added that a lot of time was also spent training physically.
"If you're not working on that months in advance then you're already behind the ball," said Jennings. "They want the whole package."
Jennings said that he hopes he has the opportunity to mentor others in his unit who want to try for the same honor in the future. He already recognizes some younger troops that show great promise and he wants to be there for them.
Jennings works full-time with Union Pacific as a manager of yard operations in Jefferson City. He will soon complete their management training program.
With the National Guard, Jennings serves as a section chief on a lightweight howitzer gun crew for the battery.
Jennings is originally from Stanberry.
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