The Bayonet

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014

MCoE 2013 Instructors of the Year honored

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The Maneuver Center of Excellence Instructors of the Year for fiscal 2013 were honored Jan. 31 during a Recognition of Excellence breakfast.

Capt. Mark Seelen, Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Ruston, Sgt. Travis Mahnke and John McMahon earned the awards in their respective categories.

Seelen, a combat techniques platoon trainer for C Company, 5th Ranger Training Battalion, earned the Officer Instructor of the Year award.

Seelen instructs Ranger School classes during the Mountain Phase of Ranger School at Camp Frank Merrill near Dahlonega, Ga.

Seelen oversees a platoon of NCOs and also personally teaches combat techniques. He said his selection as instructor of the year is a reflection of the quality of instructor at Camp Frank Merrill.

“It’s an honor to be recognized, but there’s also a lot of equally deserving instructors up here for the Mountain Phase of Ranger School,” he said. “I was just fortunate that I had a lot of strong NCOs in my company that trained me in both platform instruction and evaluation. There’s a lot of institutional knowledge up here, and the guys here are some of the best NCOs I’ve ever worked with in the Army. I think the award kind of demonstrates that we have a strong instructor certification program and the overall quality of instruction here with 5th RTB.”

Rushton, a small group leader for the Henry Caro Noncommissioned Officer Academy’s Maneuver Senior Leaders Course, was named the Senor Enlisted Instructor of the Year.

He said the award was an honor, albeit an unexpected one.

“I was very honored to be recommended in the first place, and when I learned I had actually won the award, it was very unexpected,” Rushton said. “It makes me feel like the things I have done up to this point have been successful thus far.”

Mahnke, a buddy team live fire instructor for 316th Cavalry Brigade, was named the Junior Enlisted Instructor of the Year.

He said the award was unexpected because he did not see himself as being a top-level instructor. However, his peers and superiors disagreed.

“To be honest, when I first got down here, I didn’t foresee myself being at the level that I thought I’d need to be to achieve something like Instructor of the Year, but my peers and supervisors thought otherwise,” he said. “They kind of pushed me towards the competition. They thought I was ready for us, even though I didn’t think I was at my full potential. But, they thought I was, and here I am.”

John McMahon, a communicative skills instructor for the Directorate of Training, earned the Civilian Instructor of the Year award.

McMahon teaches writing and effective communication to a variety of programs of instruction, but his primary audience is the Maneuver Captains Career Course. He said he is passionate about his job, especially when students show improvement. “It is very rewarding when I see the proverbial ‘light bulb’ come on,” McMahon said. Seeing a student’s writing improve over the course of the class — that is a true measure of success.”

McMahon said he hopes the award will call attention to the importance of communication skills.

“It’s an honor to represent my organization and my coworkers,” he said. “I hope it’s a way that I can talk about the importance of my topic. It’s not as much as about me as it is my dynamic ability to relate to and interact with the students so they can personalize what I’m trying to teach. … Maybe winning the award will get my program more known across the installation and perhaps it can get my foot in the door to go teach other Soldiers in other POIs about this topic that I know is important and essential.”

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