By Amber Martin | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — All of the military branches have fun rousing each other about which branch is the best, but during the Colorado Springs celebration of Armed Forces Day the community’s Military Affairs Council (MAC) had the final say, as it narrowed this year’s top enlisted nominees chosen from across the five installations in Colorado Springs to 15.
Approximately 400 current military members, retirees, veterans, DOD civilians, government officials and the Colorado Springs community gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel May 16, 2019, to celebrate Armed Forces Day.
“(The judges) are looking for going above and beyond what (the competitors) have done to support not only their unit, their branch, their installation and their community as well,” said Kristen Christy, MAC chair. “It is the crème de la crème of the almost 40,000 military members stationed here in Colorado Springs.”
The nominees included enlisted competitors from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and the Canadian Armed Forces from Fort Carson, North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Schriever Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and the Colorado National Guard. Categories were comprised of five service members each into three different categories, based on rank.
Fort Carson had a total of five nominees represented. Each nominee received the eagle head trophy and a medal, but only the best from each category received the eagle inflight trophy, a stay at the Double Tree hotel and extra gifts from local businesses. Recently promoted Sgt. Dillon Ball, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), who began the competition as a specialist, was one of the top three nominees.
“I am really honored to be selected as the winner of this competition,” said Ball. “There are a lot of terrific people here in the Colorado Springs community and a lot of people from all the services that do some really amazing things. I’m just humbled to be a part of this event.”
Another nominee from Fort Carson was 1st Sgt. Edith Canada, U.S. Army Garrison, and while she was not selected as a top nominee, she has accomplished some amazing feats. Canada has been a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy club since 2010 and has volunteered throughout her career.
“Here (Colorado Springs) specifically, I volunteer at Pueblo County (with other Sergeant Audie Murphy members) and we are the judges for the high school JROTC team,” said Canada. “(Being nominated) is beyond humbling, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I am just extremely grateful and humbled by it.”
In the end, the top nominees were Ball; Staff Sgt. Lisa Ritchie, Colorado Army National Guard; and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jacob Wheeler, NORAD and U.S. NORTHCOM. Though there could only be three top nominees, the spirit of the event was to bring the local community and military services together to express gratitude for service members’ dedication and service to the nation.
“Our relationship with … the entire community is a foundation of everything that we do,” said Vice Admiral Michael J. Dumont, guest speaker and deputy commander, U.S. NORTHCOM, and vice commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base. “Thank you for placing that trust and confidence in us and thank you for your remarkable efforts in supporting your military during our time here in the Colorado Springs area.”