Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Maryland State Guard Association and Maryland Defense Force select NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year winners for 2013

By 2LT (MDDF) Alessia Timothy
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
8 December 2013

The Maryland State Guard Association (MDSGA) and the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) announced their selection for Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year and Soldier of the Year earlier this month. The award is given by the MDSGA upon the recommendation of the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Council.

Cpl. (MDDF) Phyllis Landsberg, who was chosen as the 2013 NCO of Year, has been with the MDDF for almost 3 years. In that time, she has earned this title by proving to be one of the most loyal, trustworthy, and dedicated soldiers in the MDDF. Joining Cavalry Troop ‘A’ in 2010, Cpl. (MDDF) Landsberg was instrumental in reviving the unit’s esprit de corps. The Maryland Defense Force Cavalry Troop ‘A’ provides the Maryland Military Department with ceremonial support that is a visible link to the horse cavalry units of the past, while supporting public relations efforts of both the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force. Cpl. (MDDF) Landsberg participated in 10 Troop ‘A’ ceremonial missions successfully earning the MDDF Community Service Ribbon. “She is a great asset to our organization and a gracious hardworking enlisted state soldier who most definitely earned the title of the 2013 NCO of the Year for the MDDF,” said Col. (MDDF) Michael Barrett, who nominated Cpl. (MDDF) Phyllis Landsberg for the award. Col. (MDDF) Barrett added, “She goes beyond the call of duty to help her fellow state soldiers. As a hardworking state soldier and a positive role model, Cpl. (MDDF) Landsberg is a wonderful ambassador for the MDDF at public events.”

Followed by NCO of the Year, 1st Lt. (MDDF) Usmar Shaikh was a selected winner for the 2013 Soldier of the Year award for his professionalism and excellent leadership skills. 1st Lt. (MDDF) Shaikh has been with the MDDF for over 2 years. He joined the MDDF Headquarters Information & Technology Section in 2010 as a Sergeant, and then was commissioned as a 1st Lt. in 2011 in recognition of his superior ability as a leader. He has also served in the MDDF Headquarters Operations, Plans & Training Section and as the MDDF Commanding General’s Aide de Camp to Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Brian Kelm. After successfully completing the MDDF’s FEMA National Incident Management System training in October 2011, 1st Lt. Shaikh has earned the MDDF Honorable Service Ribbon, the MDDF Emergency Service Ribbon and the Maryland State Emergency Service Medal. As this year’s MDDF Soldier of the Year winner, 1st Lt. (MDDF) Usmar Shaikh will also receive a stipend to attend the State Guard Association of The United States (SGAUS) National Convention, to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, in September of 2014.

COL (MDDF) Michael Barrett, the current President of the Maryland State Guard Association (MDSGA), presented this year’s awards, congratulated the winners and thanked them for their outstanding dedication, professionalism and service. He highlighted that “it is an honor for the MDSGA to acknowledge the superior achievement of these soldiers and their service to the MDDF and the citizens of the State of Maryland.”

The Maryland State Guard Association was formed, in 1985, by a small group of Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) state soldiers who recognized the need to provide financial and MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) assistance to the men and women of the MDDF. The Association has, over the past 29 years, grown to almost two hundred military and civilian members who voluntarily give their time and talent to provide the MDDF and its state soldiers professional recognition and financial support. It also sponsors many social events throughout the year to promote morale and camaraderie within the MDDF. The MGSA is a Charter Member of the State Guard Association of The United States (SGAUS). SGAUS promotes the formation and missions of state defense forces (SDF) across the country and currently represents SDFs in 24 states and territories.

The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 450 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information: