Erbil Air Base, Iraq - The Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Tiger Brigade, is currently deployed in support of U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield.
When deployed with approximately 2000 other Soldiers it can be hard to stand apart from the crowd and be recognized as the best of the best. National Guard Soldier’s bring not only their Army experience to the table, but their civilian skills as well.
Spc. Vanessa Taylor, a Crowley, La., native recently stood out from the crowd by earning a gold German Proficiency Badge, known as Schutzenschnur. This marksmanship badge is awarded at a bronze, silver or gold level based on a Soldier’s shooting abilities.
Spc. Taylor was one of four Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th IBCT based in Lafayette, La., afforded the chance to earn the marksmanship badge.Soldiers were required to fire German weapons: a P8 pistol and a G36 rifle, which are standard carry for German Soldiers.
Soldiers had to fire and hit the target five out of five rounds with the pistol and 13 out 16 rounds with the rifle to earn the gold marksmanship badge.
“Spc. Taylor is a Soldier whose enthusiastic and outgoing personality brightens everybody’s day in brigade headquarters, and I personally picked her because of her ability to shoot the M4. I wanted to give her opportunity to shoot for the German Proficiency Badge, which for some Soldiers is a once in lifetime opportunity,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Comeaux, the 256 IBCT senior enlisted advisor. “I felt she deserved to compete because of her hard work and performance for the brigade and in the brigade’s communications section."
Spc. Taylor hit 13 out of 16 rounds with the rifle, but what made her stand out while earning a gold marksmanship bade was her performance while firing the pistol.
Spc. Taylor, before attempting to earn the Schutzenschur, had never fired or handled a pistol. When it was her time to fire the pistol, she placed all five rounds into her target.
“I really wanted to jump for joy after hitting all five rounds with the pistol, but had to maintain my composure since I was around a group of people I didn’t really know,” said Spc. Taylor. “I just had this sense of pride in myself along with wow, I just did that. It was a huge weight off my shoulders before I had to fire the rifle.”
Taylor has not only performed well on the shooting range, but she has also displayed excellence in Tiger Brigade’s signal section as an information technology (IT) specialist.
Before leaving for deployment, Spc. Taylor earned her security plus certification and completed all the required training in order to have elevated rights as an IT specialist. These elevated rights allow her to perform computer tasks that are generally assigned to a local IT help desk, and reduce the amount of time needed to resolve issues that come with being in a deployed environment.
Taylor has also played a key role in establishing equipment trackers, and maintaining TF Tiger’s contact roster.
“Spc. Taylor’s passion to perform all assigned duties above standard demonstrates a strong work ethic. Her ability to take any assigned task to fruition in a timely and efficient manner is clearly evident to leadership and staff of HHC 256 IBCT,” said Master Sgt. Jon Mount, the signal systems management chief for Tiger Brigade. “Spc. Taylor never backs down from a challenge placed before her. She continues to develop her skill set as an information technology specialist along with cross training in order to broaden functionality within the communications section.”
When not in uniform, Spc. Taylor works for Global Data Systems as an administrative assistant. Taylor recently earned her Associate’s Degree in Business Management from South Louisiana Community College. Taylor plans to start online courses after deployment to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.
“I love math and enjoy accounting,” said Taylor. “My goal is to earn my CPA, and get to the point that I can work for myself and provide for my family.”
According to a post by the U.S. Army, the Schützenschnur has origins dating back to the 18th Century in the Kingdom of Prussia, current day Germany, and was awarded for marksmanship. While the weapons and firing tables for qualification vary, based off Military Occupational Specialty, a combination of light and heavy-arms fire is required for the award.