Governor Kelly presents awards to four Kansas National Guardsmen

April 1, 2022 | By Bailey Hittle

Governor Laura Kelly presented awards to four Kansas National Guardsmen in a special ceremony March 18 in the Capitol rotunda. The awards were earned in prior years, but the presentations were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"While the men and women who serve in the Kansas National Guard are all worthy of our respect and honor, these Guardsmen have earned special recognition for their outstanding achievements and devotion to duty," Kelly said. "On behalf of all Kansans, I thank them for their dedicated service."

Sgt. Andrew Gonzales and Spc. Nickolas Decker received the Army Commendation medal for their first-place finishes as Best Noncommissioned Officer and Best Soldier, respectively, in the 2021 Kansas Army National Guard Best Warrior competition.

he Best Warrior Competition is designed to test all aspects of a Soldier’s physical and mental fitness. Over a four-day period, enlisted and noncommissioned officer participants were tested on their expertise in Soldier common tasks, weapons proficiency, physical fitness, and comprehensive military knowledge.

Sgt. Ryan Marsh was awarded the Kansas National Guard Meritorious Service medal for his skill in the 2020 and 2021 Winston P. Wilson Sniper Competition. Marsh earned national distinction as part of a two-person team during the 2020 Team Championship and was a top-level finisher in the 2021 competition.

Airman 1st Class Olivia M. Wallace was named the 2021 Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year and received a certificate of excellence for her achievement. Wallace was cited for her outstanding professionalism, leadership ability, and dedication to mission accomplishment.

“It’s never too late to acknowledge excellence and we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize several of our outstanding Kansas Guard members,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Harmon, Kansas Army National Guard Land Component command sergeant major. “We appreciate Governor Kelly’s strong support of the Kansas National Guard and our Kansas Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen.”