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Fightertown's finest honored

By Cpl. Micah Snead | | April 15, 2005

Two of the Air Station’s finest Marines were rewarded with a formation, medals, gifts and even a promotion, April 12.

Sergeant Shareef Muhammad, logistics chief, Station Logistics Office, was recognized for winning the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year board while Lance Cpl. Joshua Zwahrlandrum, crewmember, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, won the Marine of the Year board.

Both Marines were awarded Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals by Lt. Col. Jefrey M. Arnold, commanding officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.

“These boards pit the best of the best against one another,” Arnold said. “Winning a Marine or NCO of the Year board takes a lot of hard work and determination.”

Muhammad, an Iowa City, Iowa native, received an NCO sword in addition to his second NAM. The 28-year-old has been on a fast track towards success since enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2001. In August, Muhammad was meritoriously promoted to sergeant after winning the Marine Corps Air Bases East Meritorious Sergeant board.

“Just being an NCO is rewarding enough to me,” Muhammad said. “Winning a board like this, after being nominated and supported by my peers and superiors, is even better. I enjoy the competition with the best NCOs around the Air Station, because I consider them some of the best in the Marine Corps.”

William “Bull” Fossum was on hand during the ceremony to present both Marines with $150 on behalf of the 1st Marine Brigade “Dethatched” and the Calabash, N.C. Elk’s Lodge. Both organizations frequently deliver supplies ranging from furniture and groceries to children’s gifts for service members in the Tri-Command area.

“We couldn’t have selected two more deserving Marines,” Fossum said. “We wanted to provide an extra incentive for young Marines like these two to push themselves. I hope that all staff noncommissioned officers out there are encouraging this kind of extra effort and motivating their Marines to improve themselves.”

Zwahrlandrum, a Houston, Texas native, was unaware of the meritorious promotion he will receive next month when he fought for and earned the Marine of the Year title.

“That is not something that is normally awarded to the Marine of the Year, but this Marine really stood out so the command made an extra effort to find that promotion quota for him,” Muhammad said. “All the recognition and rewards we received today will hopefully bring more attention to the Marine and NCO of the Year boards and encourage more participation.”

There was one more surprise in store for the Marines at the end of the ceremony. Arnold unveiled a “Marine of the Year” parking sign that will reserve a prime spot for each winner for one year.

“The rewards they received today are absolutely appropriate given the work and sacrifice of these Marines to win the boards,” Arnold said.

The two can carry the title of Fightertown’s finest for the next year, but their real challenge will be exceeding their own high standards, according to Muhammad.

“I like the saying ‘You have the title, but do you wear the belt’,” Muhammad said. “Now we have to go back to our shops and continue to seek self-improvement not only in ourselves, but in the Marines around us.”