Army Reserve Chemical Company receives prestigious award for excellence

By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell | 76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response | July 5, 2018

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Each year, the leadership from the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) school here takes time to honor its top performing chemical companies in each of the three Army components by presenting them with the Maj. Gen. William L. Sibert Award for excellence.

This year, as the Chemical Corps celebrates its historic 100th anniversary, the school’s leaders once again paused to recognize the outstanding chemical units in their ranks during an awards ceremony at the Baker Theater here June 28.

Representing the Army Reserve were Soldiers from the 342nd Chemical Company, 472nd Chemical Battalion, 209th Regional Support Group, 76th Operational Response Command, who were standing on top of the podium for the second year in a row.

“This award really means a lot, especially with the high operational tempo we maintained in support of Ready Force X,” said Capt. Lorenzo Llorente, commanding officer, 342nd Chemical Company, 472nd Chemical Battalion. “Our Soldiers have put a lot of work into this and have made a lot of sacrifices with their families and civilian employers. So for them to get recognized with this deserving award means a ton.”

The annual Sibert award program is designed to provide deserving recognition for excellence in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, while instilling pride and reinforcing the essential elements of mission readiness, leadership, discipline, unit training, safety, reenlistment, maintenance and organizational excellence. The units are also recognized for providing outstanding support to the joint warfighter.

Llorente gives a lot of credit to earning the award this year to his units noncommissioned officers (NCOs). “It takes a lot of NCO involvement to win an award like this,” he said. “It really helped that our NCOs were heavily focused on increasing our medical readiness, so during our battle assemblies we could set our focus on training. I think the amount of training we did is really what caused us to stand out from our sister companies.”

During the award ceremony, the Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear school commandant along with the command sergeant major and chief warrant officer, presented each of the three companies with a plaque, and attached a Sibert Award streamer to their company guidon.

“I’m very proud of our 342nd Chemical Company for receiving this award,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Cherry, deputy commanding general, 76th Operational Response Command. “They’ve made great progress and they continue to grow, not only as an award winning company, but also as a field company. They recently demonstrated that their field craft and their tactical and technical skills are outstanding. We provided them resources, but they put in all the hard work to make this happen.”

Hard work was just one factor that goes into being successful according to Llorente. “The keys to being successful is to leave the drill hall during battle assemblies and go out and train, follow the mission command principles, and allow NCOs to be NCOs,” he said. “It’s also important to have a common goal for the mission as well as mutual trust throughout the company.”

Llorente said there are also other key factors as well. “All of our Soldiers are highly motivated and there is no doubt we have the best chemical company in the division and the Army Reserve,” he said. “Our ability to create cohesive teams is ultimately what has made us successful, but also creating and maintaining a close unit relationship with our families and civilian employers has been one of our top priorities that has really helped us succeed.”

Another one of the unit’s Soldiers who was on hand to receive the award with Llorente was Sgt. 1st Class John Baptisti, company first sergeant, 342nd Chemical Company, 472nd Chemical Battalion. “It feels good to receive this award for our Soldiers,” he said. “Ultimately, their hard work is the reason we received this award in the first place, they deserve it. The lead NCOs in the unit are hard-charging and they stay on top of all the training requirements, making my job so much easier, and the lower enlisted Soldiers in the unit are some of the most knowledgeable Soldiers I have ever worked with. So, I’m proud of them and happy to be here to accept this award on their behalf.”

Although Llorente will be transferring out of the unit soon, and transferring authority to his executive officer, he said the unit has every intention of coming back next year to claim the title of the best once again. “We are definitely planning a three-peat,” he said. “These Soldiers are going to continue to train hard and strive for excellence, and ultimately I think the unit will be here again next year to receive this award.”

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