Missouri Airmen, Soldiers win high honors at National Guard Bureau media contest

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  • By Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office
  • JFHQ-Missouri National Guard
Missouri National Guard public affairs Airmen and Soldiers took home top honors in several categories of the National Guard Bureau's annual media contest, including three overall individual achievement awards.

Missouri is especially proud of Staff Sgt. Elise Rich, the Air National Guard's Outstanding New Broadcaster, and Sgt. Clay Beyersdorfer and Senior Airman Nathan Dampf, who were named Print Journalists of the Year for the Army and Air Guard, said Capt. John Quin, Missouri's state public affairs officer.

"All three are traditional Guardsmen who push themselves hard during drill weekends and training events to make sure they're telling the Guard's story," Quin said. "They, along with their fellow award recipients, represent a joint public affairs team that is second to none."

Rich and Dampf both serve with the 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, and excel at covering the Guard's only nuclear-certified bomb wing, said Capt. Jeff Bishop,  public affairs chief for the wing.

"These awards are particularly noteworthy because they're judged on a variety of the Airmen's best stories from across the year, and not just a single entry," said Bishop.  "Traditional Guardsmen, who only get about a dozen or so 'at bats' per year, have to swing for the fences every time. I know Staff Sgt. Rich and Senior Airman Dampf will hit it out of the park whenever they step up to the plate."  

One wing having two award winners in overall individual achievement categories is a major accomplishment, Quin said. 

"Captain Bishop and his superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison, are great leaders who really empower their Airmen," Quin said. "It's worth noting that Captain Bishop is a contest winner himself and received top honors for a commentary he wrote about effective mentorship. Seeing how his Airmen performed, that is clearly a subject that he knows a lot about." 

In the Army National Guard competition, the Missouri Army National Guard 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment's Sgt. Clay Beyersdorfer took home top honors with the Paul D. Savanuck Military Print Journalist of the Year award, while Sgt. Mariah Best took third-place honors in the Outstanding News Article category.

Both Soldiers had spent part of 2014 deployed to Afghanistan with the unit, said Maj. Sandy Stover, their commander. Beyersdorfer served as a print journalist for the 4th Infantry Division in Kandahar, Afghanistan, producing an extraordinary number of articles and photos used on a regular basis by news outlets like NBC Nightly News, CNN and ABC.

"Sgt. Beyersdorfer is the epitome of a Citizen Soldier," Stover said. "Although he had only one course remaining in order to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri, he volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2013. He became one of the most trusted and effective military journalists in the theater."

Best, too, served as a journalist in Afghanistan. She also worked in the media operations center in Kandahar, monitoring coverage of International Security Assistance Forces in the news cycle.

"Sgt. Best's coverage of the International Women's Day in Afghanistan, her award-winning news article, captured an unprecedented time period in which Afghan women were training to become police officers," said Stover. "The United Nations' theme for Women's Day was 'inspiring change.' Like the theme, Sgt. Best's excellent writing and outstanding service reflect how one person can make a difference."

The Missouri National Guard public affairs office at state headquarters here also took in honors.  The team won first place in the Outstanding Digital Presence category. The office also teamed with the Museum of Missouri Military History and 135th Military History Detachment for third-place honors in the Community Relations Special Events Category for the opening of the Museum of Missouri Military History here.

First place winners will go on to compete at the respective Army and Air Force service levels; with winners at those levels competing in the prestigious Department of Defense Thomas Jefferson awards program.

For more information regarding the work of each Guardsman, go to the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System website.