Army Reserve NCO wins distinguished engineer award

By Sgt. 1st Class Tony Foster | 412th Theater Engineer Command | June 5, 2020

GREENVILLE, S.C. —

A 391st Engineer Battalion plans noncommissioned officer (NCO) set himself apart from his enlisted Army Reserve engineer peers when he was selected to receive the prestigious Sturgis Medal, May. 10.

The Sturgis Medal is sponsored by Society of American Military Engineers and is named in honor of Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis, a former Chief of Engineers.

“To receive an award regarding engineer leadership is what makes this such an achievement,” said Staff Sgt. James Toothman, 391st Plans NCO. “I'm truly humbled to even be considered for this award, and proud of what it means to Army Reserve engineers.”

The medal is awarded annually to only one deserving active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve engineer noncommissioned officer in recognition of outstanding contributions to military engineering by demonstrated technical and leadership ability.

“As a young NCO, he has chosen the difficult path and continuously shoulders the burden of staff operations, never backing down from a challenge, executing at a much higher pay grade than his current rank reflects,” said Maj. Lex Oren, 391st Operations Officer.

“It is a well-deserved recognition,” added Oren.

Toothman is an Army Reserve combat engineer (12B) who currently serves as one of the 391st active guard reserve (AGR) full-time leaders. The 391st is located in Greenville, South Carolina, and falls under the command of the 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command.

As a Plans NCO, Toothman is pivotal in participating in planning workshops, contributing in the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP), and presenting briefings to the battalion and brigade commander in the absence of more senior NCOs and officers.

“Staff Sgt. Toothman operates at such a high and effective level, that he has earned the right to be recognized with this award, and is a great representation of what the USAR brings to the Engineer Corps,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Cottis, 391st Operations NCO.

Toothman also serves in several additional duties to include squad leader, Defense Travel System approving official and Physical Security Officer. He assisted with the coordination of range operations, interaction with ammo supply points (ASP) for weapons qualifications, and railhead operations. Toothman has also planned field training exercises at Fort Jackson, McCrady Training Center and Clarks Hill National Guard Training Center.

“I feel this award validates the effort that Staff Sgt. Toothman has given to support, not just the battalion and our companies during our Extended Combat Training (ECT), Best Warrior Competitions, ranges and field FTXs, but additionally our brigade and its battalions during last year's ECT at Ft. Stewart,” said Cottis.

Toothman continues to build his leadership skills and enhance the progression of 391st Headquarters and Headquarters Company. He has developed an 18-month event calendar and makes constant strides to keep morale and motivation high for the Soldiers of the 391st.

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