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First Sgt. Terry Roark and his wife, Lisa.

First Sgt. Terry Roark, a 24-year veteran of the Kentucky National Guard, has been recognized as the Kentucky National Guard’s 2009 Senior Enlisted Solder of the Year.

“It’s definitely a high point in my career,” Roark said. “It is a humbling award.”

Roark, the company first sergeant of the 1149th Forward Support Company in London, said the process began in the fall of 2008 when it was strongly suggested by Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Daugherty that he should prepare his packet and submit it.

“It wasn’t really an order, but when one of your superiors makes a suggestion, you do it,” Roark said.

The packet included Roark’s biography, his last two evaluations, a list of awards and achievements and a type-written speech about retention.

During Roark’s career he has two extended deployments, to Belgium in 2002 and to Iraq in 2006-07 and numerous shorter deployments. Among his awards are the Army’s Bronze Start medal for valor, Army Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Medal.

“When I submitted the packet, I really thought there was no way I would be selected,” Roark said. “I thought there are better NCO’s who have done more and contributed more.”

Maj. Jeff Cole, executive officer of First Battalion, 149th Infantry, said Roark exemplifies all of the characteristics the Army looks for in a senior enlisted soldier.

“First Sgt. Roark is a extremely professional soldier who takes great pride in his work,” Cole said. “His soldiers look up to him.”

While working his way up the rank ladder, Roark said he learned being a leader is not only about giving orders, but listening to the soldiers under your command.

“I am surrounded by competent people,” Roark said the soldiers in the 1149th. “I have good soldiers that make my job easy.”

Roark is a native of Clay Country and a 1986 graduate of Clay County High School.

Roark and his wife, Lisa have been married for 20 years and live in East Bernstadt. They have two sons, Bryan, 16 and Wesley, 13.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at dmanning@sentinel-echo.com.

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