contributed……Earning the honor of state recruiter of the year is a lofty accomplishment in its own right, but two Wisconsin National Guardsmen have set the bar to an even higher level this year.  Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mannel of New Richmond, Wis., was named to the Chief’s 54 – a distinction reserved for the top National Guard recruiter from each state and territory. The man in charge of his team, Master Sgt. Jason Meyers, earned his own honors after the regional recruiting and retention council named him the top noncommissioned officer in charge.  Meyers beat out the competition from every other recruiting team in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota. He was named one of the Expert 7, a nod to the top noncommissioned officer in each of the nation’s seven recruiting regions.

The newly named top noncommissioned officer from Rice Lake, Wis. was quick to deflect the credit for his team’s success in the competition.  “I think it speaks volumes for the state,” Meyers said, acknowledging the accomplishments of each of his 12 recruiters. “The noncommissioned officers that work on the team, this is their award. They’re the ones who positioned us for this. They’re the ones who deserve the recognition in my opinion.”  Mannel, one of his platoon sergeants, went on to be named the region’s top recruiter. He will represent the entire region when he goes up against the six other top regional recruiters across the country at the national competition in April.  Having both honorees from one state is unprecedented. Regionally no state in recent history has produced the top Soldier in both categories. Even more impressive, both men hail from the same unit out of Eau Claire – Detachment 1, Company A of Wisconsin’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. The same team produced the state’s top three recruiters, and six of the top 10. There are approximately 80 Army National Guard recruiters across Wisconsin.

The two Soldiers were selected to compete at Fort McCoy, Wis., against the top recruiters from each of the seven states in the region based on their performances over the past year. The recruiters with the most accessions, the highest number of recruits to complete basic training, community involvement, and other measures earned the top spots in their states. The elite met on Oct. 15 at Fort McCoy where a board of seven command sergeants major bombarded them with questions. Wisconsin’s representatives held their own.  “A pretty significant accomplishment by those two,” said Recruiting and Retention Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Rosemore. “And they didn’t go in there and just barely win. They went in there and just hammered them. They were impressive in that board as well.”

The top noncommissioned officers in charge do not advance to compete at the national level, but Master Sgt. Meyers will accompany Sgt. 1st Class Mannel to nationals. Mannel has unfinished business there – two years ago, he finished second in the national top recruiter competition.

“Sgt. 1st Class Mannel came back and basically blew everyone away in our command, because he was not satisfied,” Rosemore recalled. “He said that as part of his closing statement. He said, ‘I didn’t finish business last time, so I’m coming back to finish it.'”  “I am going to this competition to win,” Mannel acknowledged. “There is no doubt about it. I have been chasing the top spot for three-plus years, and getting back to this situation is what I have been working diligently to get. Most of all, I just hope that I can represent our [regional council]. They selected me and I want to make them glad they did.”

Recruiting and Retention Battalion commander Lt. Col Eric Killen said, “We had a fantastic year … but the reason we were successful was because of guys like Meyers and Mannel. That’s exactly the reason why.  “If you look at us as a whole, we exceeded our mission,” Killen continued, “but we wouldn’t have done it without guys like Meyers and Mannel to put people in boots and deal with recruit sustainment program Soldiers on a daily basis.”

Killen noted that from a field of approximately 2,800 Army National Guard recruiters nationwide, Meyers and Mannel are one of seven remaining.

“In the recruiting world and in the entire Guard world, this is a big accomplishment,” Killen said.