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One Officer Candidate has stood out as a distinguished Infantry leader to receive the 2014 Patterson Award.
2nd Lt. Robert Wright will be recognized as this year's award winner May 20 during the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame dinner.
While nominations are open to all Infantry officer candidates, the award typically falls to a Soldier who has prior Army service. The Patterson Award was established in 1952 by friends of Judge Robert Patterson and includes a certificate of achievement, money, an engraved pistol and a letter of commendation from the U.S. Army Infantry School commandant.
Patterson served in World Wars I and II and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during a daylight reconnaissance mission into enemy lines Aug. 14, 1918.
"I am incredibly humbled, some of the guys who have received the award in the past are outstanding and inspiring Soldiers," Wright said. "Judge Patterson was a great Soldier and citizen, so it's a huge honor to receive this award."
Wright was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He attended the University of South Florida where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. Wright enlisted in military service in New Orleans as an Infantryman, attending one station unit training at Fort Benning in June 2004.
"I was enlisted for six years- originally on impulse - but it turned out to be by far the best decision I ever made in my life," he said.
Upon completion of OSUT, he attended Airborne School. Following Airborne School, Wright was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served in positions from rifleman to team leader. "I think leadership is all about teamwork and getting your support to (believe in) the mission and take it on," Wright said. "I really like positive competition." Wright deployed in support of Operation Katrina in 2005 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006, where he served as a team leader.
"My greatest success was I deployed to Iraq," he said. "With all the training we had, we actually got to go out and do real-world missions and help the people there, and I'm most proud of that."
Wright served as a squad leader while assigned to 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana, from 2008 to 2010. He completed Ranger School and led opposing force exercises for the Joint Readiness Training Center. Since his recent completion of Officer Candidate School and Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course, Wright is currently taking courses on Fort Benning until he moves to his permanent duty station in Vicenza, Italy, later this year with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
"I really didn't know much about what officers did when I was enlisted," Wright said. "Now that I have completed OCS and just graduated from IBOLC, I have a much greater understanding of the officer's side and an appreciation for what they do. I'm excited about going to my first unit, meeting my platoon and being best that I can as a team leader."