New Jersey Soldiers Of The Year

Photos and story by Tech. sgt. Mark Olseny, NJDMAVA/PA

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The 2003 New Jersey Army National Guard NCO of the Year and the 2003 New Jersey Army National Guard Soldier of the Year were awarded to Sgt. Johnathon M. Sodamin (center, top picture) and to Sgt. Maria E. Velez (center, right picture) respectively. The plaques were presented by New Jersey State Command Sgt. Maj. Richard S. Adkins, Jr., (right) and Sgt. Maj. James H. Marshall, Jr., (left) 57th Troop Command on April 8. Sgt. Sodamin is currently assigned to the 150th General Support Aviation Battalion located at Trenton-Mercer Airport, while Sgt. Velez is a Visual Information Equipment Operator/Maintainer at the Training and Training Technology Battle Lab at Fort Dix. The basic criteria for the award includes being MOS qualified or in the process of getting MOS qualified, be within Army height and weight standards and be weapons qualified. Once a soldier is selected by his or her unit, they then go on to compete against candidates from other units through the entire command level. After that they compete against nominees at the regional and national levels.