ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia — Recognizing Soldiers who excel above their peers with a coin is one way commanders reward the extraordinary efforts of Soldiers, but it’s not every day that the commander awarding the coin is a two-star general.
Recently, Maj. Gen. Patricia E. McQuistion, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, took time to recognize Soldiers from each of the participating units with a commander’s coin for their hard work during Saber Strike 2011.
Saber Strike 2011 is a multinational exercise taking place at the Adazi Training Area in Latvia. The exercise involves units from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, the 172nd Infantry Brigade and the 21st TSC’s 16th Sustainment Brigade.
“It was an honor getting the coin. It was just a nice way to recognize all the hard work that we do,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Ernst, a visual information operator and maintainer for Armed Forces Network Europe.
Although honored, Sergeant Ernst said he also realized the coin was a symbol of teamwork.
“Being a (non-commissioned officer), it wasn’t just me. It was also my guys working their butts off too,” he said.
Soldiers from the 172nd Inf. Bde. echoed Sergeant Ernst’s sentiments, adding that they felt especially honored receiving the coin from a command different than their own.
“It was an honor to get this coin from someone not in my task force,” said Pvt. Arthur Mills,a forward observer for Alpha Company, 1-2 Infantry, Task Force 3-66 Armor, 172nd Inf. Bde.
For the foreign soldiers receiving coins, the feeling of honor that came from receiving a coin from someone of a different nation was just as significant.
This is a great honor to stand here as the best Estonian soldier, together with our outstanding soldiers from our allies, said Sgt. Rivo Tamm, a soldier with the Estonian Scouts Battalion.
Even though commanders and command sergeants major are known for handing out coins during visits to troops, its value is not something lost on General McQuistion.
“It’s just one little sign of our appreciation for how much Soldiers do,” she said.