British Army Staff Sgt. John Welsh was recently named the JFC Naples outstanding servicemember for the second half of 2015.
NAPLES, Italy – British Army Staff Sgt. John Welsh stomped his boot sharply to the ground, snapped to attention and rendered a salute to U.S. Navy Admiral Mark Ferguson, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Dec. 14, culminating weeks of effort to achieve the title of JFC Naples Outstanding Military Servicemember for the second half of 2015.
Welsh, who works with the effects and influences branch at JFC Naples, bested nine other nominees from Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S. to earn the recognition.
"I thought they made a mistake,” Welsh quipped about his initial reaction. "There’s a lot of experience to the left and right of me.”
The nominees were determined by a process where supervising officers, along with branch and division heads, recommended their best noncommissioned officer to German Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Meyer, Command Senior Enlisted Leader of JFC Naples, who was then tasked by Ferguson to set up a selection board to assess the nominees’ qualities and proficiency.
The chosen servicemembers submitted a packet and were interviewed by a board consisting of senior NCOs from the headquarters of JFC Naples along with the previous winner of the competition. The board challenged the nominees with topics ranging from military professionalism, general knowledge and leadership skills.
"The hardest part in the process was the final grading, as all ten nominees performed superbly,” said Meyer. "However, a decision needed to be made, and the board eventually reached consensus on one name.”
Welsh, a native of Dunfermline, Scotland, has been in the military for 13 years and arrived to JFC Naples in 2014.
After joining the Army in 2002, Welsh said he realized he would eventually end up in Iraq. It was an insight that proved to be accurate.
Shortly after completing basic training, Welsh touched down briefly in Germany and from there headed to the Middle East. He was greeted with a lot of familiar faces in Germany as he was in the same battalion as a brother, four cousins and schoolmates.
Welsh said working at NATO has brought a lot of clarity to his entire career.
"It’s definitely taught me patience,” said Welsh. "Some of the things I’ve done in the past now make sense.”
Welsh is slated to be a part of the JFC Naples team until later next year, where, along with his wife, three daughters and two dogs, he’ll move on to the next stage of his career.
Story and photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Patton, JFC Naples Public Affairs