The Wisconsin National Guard's 132nd Army Band owns the reserve component of the 2014 Army Music Noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers of the Year competition.
Staff Sgt. Tyler Terrell took first place in the senior NCO category, Sgt. Brian Lydeen took first in the NCO category, and Spc. Micah Lancaster took first in the Soldier category.
"When the announcement was made, I couldn't believe it," said 1st Sgt. Deb Dahlman, the top enlisted member of the 132nd Army Band who selected Terrell, Lydeen and Lancaster for the competition. "I was so happy, I cried."
There are 73 Army bands in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
Dahlman selected band members who recently graduated military leadership or occupational skill classes, who excelled at music proficiency, and who performed more than one musical instrument. Physical fitness, Army warrior skill proficiency, prior evaluation reports and professional appearance also factored into the competition. A board of Army band command sergeant majors and officers reviewed the nominees and selected the winners.
"I think the stars all aligned for me this year, and I was able to make an impression on the board," Terrell said, noting he was an honor graduate from the armed forces school of music, and has favorable military evaluations. "I didn't know I was even nominated, so it was a great honor to win."
Terrell has been in the 132nd Army Band for 17 years, and the four years prior to that he was with the 77th Army Band at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He would like to be promoted to first sergeant before he retires.
Lydeen is not just a military musician — he earned a doctorate in music performance from the University of Wisconsin, and is the director of bands and Jazz studies at Marian College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Additionally, he directs the Lighthouse Big Band in Fond du Lac, and performs in such groups as the Wisconsin Symphonic Winds, Searl Picket Saxophone Quartet and the Mohawk Avenue Jazz Band.
"This is a source of tremendous pride for me," Lydeen said. "I was honored to be selected from all of the Guard and Reserve units in the country. It is pretty unbelievable that they selected me."
Lydeen is approaching his fourth year in the Wisconsin National Guard, and plans to complete a 20-year enlistment. He said the competition revealed the quality of the 132nd Army Band and its Soldiers.
"There are some extremely talented musicians and dedicated members in our unit," Lydeen said. "It could have been any number of others selected besides just us."
Lancaster not only has chops as a musician, but he represented the 64th Troop Command in the 2014 Wisconsin National Guard Best Warrior Competition.
"I think [it] was a factor," Lancaster said of his participation in Best Warrior. "I actually had no idea I was being considered for Army Music Soldier of the Year. It was definitely a surprise when I found out I had won. It motivates me to continue to maintain and improve my Soldier skills and musicianship."
Lancaster said the 132nd Army Band maintains the highest standards of professionalism and excellence. He has been in the Wisconsin Army National Guard for three years, but plans to stay in the 132nd Army Band "as long as they let me."
"We swept the competition because we put the best packages together with the right people, in the right place, at the right time," Dahlman added. "I was honored to be able to recognize some fine Army musicians."