A 1st Infantry Division soldier now serving in Kosovo has been selected to receive the Sgt. Eric L. Coggins Award, given annually to an outstanding paralegal noncommissioned officer from the Army’s Staff Judge Advocate corps.

Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Martinez, 27, of Leesville, La., was selected for this year’s award based on his skills as a leader and a marksman, and for his involvement in the community. He will travel to Washington to accept the award July 24.

Martinez is a member of the 4th Brigade’s headquarters company in Katterbach, Germany, and has been deployed to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, since November.

Master Sgt. David Williers, the division’s chief paralegal NCO, credited Martinez with boosting his soldiers’ average training on the Army’s physical-fitness test by 22 points by instituting a rigorous PT program and encouraging 11 of his soldiers to take more than 400 hours of college correspondence courses.

Martinez is Ranger-qualified, has earned a 300 score on the physical-fitness test, qualified as an expert marksman, is certified as a Combat Lifesaver and recently finished 13th out of 224 competitors in a triathlon. He has finished more than two years of college since joining the Army. In his spare time, Martinez coaches youth soccer and tee-ball. He also plays in a band and teaches Sunday school at his church.

Lt. Col. John Miller II, his commanding officer, said in a nominating letter that Martinez has consistently excelled at tasks above his pay grade and single-handedly trained the unit’s Kosovo team.

“Since day one in the Army, SSG Martinez has maintained the ‘can-do’ attitude that we need and expect from our best leaders,” Miller wrote. “[His] significant contributions, his dedication to duty, and his professionalism make him the role model for all to follow.”

The award was established in 1997 in memory of Sgt. Eric L. Coggins, an airborne soldier during the mid-1990s who requested duty in South Korea and later ran the legal office at Camp Doha, Kuwait. When Iraq threatened the country, he volunteered for automatic weapons and tank gunnery training. Shortly after returning from Iraq, Coggins was diagnosed with liver cancer and died at age 23.

Martinez is the fourth consecutive Europe-based soldier to win the Coggins award. Last year’s winner was Staff Sgt. Melissa Burke of the Darmstadt Legal Center.

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