FARGO, N.D. (3/9/12) - Two Soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard’s 188th Army Band were honored as among the Army’s best Feb. 27.
Army Sgt. DeAnn Fylling was named 2011 Reserve Component Army Band Junior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year while Army Spc. Aaron Bedford was runner-up for the 2011 Reserve Component Army Band Soldier of the Year.
“Congratulations to Sergeant Fylling and Specialist Bedford on this outstanding accomplishment,” said Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general.
“North Dakota’s 188th Army Band truly is the finest in the entire National Guard, and having two of their Soldiers chosen for such an honor further validates that,” he said.
The Band Soldier of the Year contest is an annual event to identify the most outstanding Soldier-musicians in the Army. The competition evaluates candidates’ leadership abilities, artistic integrity, military accomplishments and organizational and planning skills. A candidate must excel in musical proficiency and physical fitness to qualify for the competition.
“It’s extremely gratifying to have other band leaders validate my opinions of these soldiers,” said Warrant Officer Dave, 188th Army Band commander. “They excelled at every category of the competition.”
Fylling joined the Guard in 2001 and works full time for the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors program in Bismarck. She plays saxophone for the band.
“I was very surprised that I won,” Fylling said. “I knew that it was an Army-wide competition and that lots of noncommissioned officers would be competing. It was really just a shot in the dark — I wanted to know where I stood among my peers.”
She graduated in 2001 from Minot’s Bishop Ryan High School. Her father, Brian Hickel, and her mother, Shelli Hickel, live in Minot. Fylling earned an education degree from Jamestown College in 2005.
Bedford, a percussionist with the band, said the Band Soldier of Year audition was a challenging test.
“I had to prepare to play mallets, snare drum and drum set,” he said. “The audition tests you on all the categories, from concert and marching music to jazz, funk and country.”
Bedford joined the military in 2000 and served four years on active duty in the Marine Corps. He deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010 with the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division Band.
Bedford is a 1999 graduate of Fargo South High School. His parents, David and Laurie Bedford, live in Fargo. He is studying medical laboratory sciences at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
“Sergeant Fylling and Specialist Bedford stand out because of their individual work and dedication,” Stordalen said.
“These Soldiers’ achievements show that the band is raising its standards,” he said. “The band’s soldiers asked for more challenges and tougher training, and we are working every drill to meet the high expectations we’ve set for ourselves.”