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Thursday, May 26, 2016

PC grad is Soldier of the Year

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spc. John J. "Jay" Denney, formerly of the Pierce City and Monett areas, was named as the 2011 Soldier of the Year at a recognition dinner held on Dec. 1, 2011. Pictured above, from left, are: Command Sgt. Major Sylvia Laughlin and Spc. John J. Denney. Denney was promoted to sergeant on Jan. 1.
United States Army Garrison Fort Hamilton selected Spc. John J. "Jay" Denney, chaplain assistant, as the 2011 Soldier of the Year.

Denney was recognized on Dec. 1, 2011, at the Association for the United States Army Greater New York Statue of Liberty Chapter NCO and Soldier of the Year dinner. Denney is a former Pierce City and Monett resident. He graduated from Pierce City High School in 1989.

Denney follows a service legacy extablished by both his father and mother and both grandfathers.

His father, Larry Denney, is retired U.S. Navy after 20 years. He entered the Navy after graduating from Monett High School in 1959 and retired in 1978 with the rank of master chief (E-9). He served for six years as a chief warrant officer, but decided to retire as an enlisted man versus an officer.

Jay's mother, ­Juanita, served in the U.S. Navy and they met serving at the naval base in Great Lakes, Ill. The couple married in 1963, and she was discharged after they were married. The couple lived in Pierce City for 12 years following retirement and moved to Shell Knob in 1999. Larry served as the city clerk in Pierce City while the couple lived there.

Jay decided to join the Missouri National Guard as a carpenter. After two years with a guard unit that had not yet been deployed to the Gulf, he decided to go active-duty. Six weeks upon his arrival at his first duty station at Fort Sill, Okla., his unit deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months where Jay'swork as a carpenter kept him busy enough to the point where he felt a need for a change. When Jay re-enlisted, he had a plan in mind.

"I was planning to make the Army a career," said Jay, "and I thought about the re-enlisting and re-classifying. At that time, there were many bonuses being offered, but the promotion points for engineers had a history of being very high. For a chaplain's assistant, the situation isn't that much easier, but the points are more obtainable, so I changed my career field.

"Also, since I was much older than the average soldier, I would be retiring older as well," said Jay who is 41. "Engineering is a physically challenging job, especially while wearing 60 pounds of body armor. Not to say that I couldn't do it, but I wanted to choose a job that would be suitable for my age as I grew older. A chaplain's assistant seemed appropriate, since I grew up in a Christian household in a family where God was okay in our book."

"We wanted to select a soldier who we believe is the epitome of inspiration and esprit de corps," said Command Sgt. Major Sylvia Laughlin. "I chose Denney, because he continues to exemplify Army values in the face of challenges and adversity. He never missed a beat."

Jay has his sights set on the future. He went before the promotion board in July 2011 and was promoted to sergeant effective Jan. 1.

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