A wealth of experience being the ‘Top’ | NevadaAppeal.com

A wealth of experience being the ‘Top’

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com

1st Sgt. Jason Shipp, right, of the 609th Engineer Company in Fallon, talks to Sgt. Adam Brayton, center, while company commander Capt. Brett Eklund listens.

1st Sgt. Jason Shipp spent his first official weekend as the top enlisted soldier for the Nevada Army National Guard's 609th Engineer Company in Fallon.

During a break from his duties on Sunday, Shipp said he is appreciative of the unit's confidence in what he can bring to the company as the new 'top' or first sergeant.

In a change of command ceremony at the Washoe County Armory in January, Shipp became first sergeant in which former 1st Sgt. Scott Brown relinquished his responsibilities.

Brown, who spent more than four years as the 609th's first sergeant, was then promoted to sergeant major.

"It was an awesome moment," said Capt. Brett Eklund, company commander. "We had a change of command and then a promotion."

Eklund said Shipp brings much experience to his first-sergeant role.

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"He's bringing a whole new bottle of energy to the company," Eklund said. "He has a different leadership approach."

Eklund, though, said Brown also did a good job for the company, but he said Brown was happy to turn over his position to Shipp.

Shipp, who grew up in Reno and attended several high schools in the Truckee Meadows, recently spent four years as the Nevada Army National Guard's range control foreman at Bravo 19 south of Fallon. The range, which is jointly operated by the Guard and Naval Air Station Fallon, provides a small arms range for the M16 rifle and 9mm handgun users.

Shipp is also no stranger to performing his weekend training drills out of Fallon. For seven years when the Fallon armory housed a mortars and scout platoon for the 221st Cavalry Regiment, Shipp was a scout.

Now, being an infantry soldier coming to an engineer company will be a completely new experience for the 45-year-old Shipp.

"I want to bring a different type of leadership, a diversified leadership," Shipp explained.

Shipp said Brown served as the unit's initial first sergeant when the unit stood up in 2009 and developed a good cross training of leadership for the enlisted soldiers. Now, Shipp said he would like to build upon that training.

"One of my goals is to get the small-group leaders and build them up to the next higher level," Shipp said. "And then they'll come together as a whole unit."

Within the first drill weekend, Eklund said Shipp brings great command presence."

Shipp, who sent seven years on active duty with the Army and now more than 11 years with the National Guard, said he can bring strengths from both components.

"The goal is to build a strong company, and my ideas are from the active Army and Guard where I'll use strengths from both," he added.

Eklund said Brown left the unit in great shape for Shipp to build on.

Because the membership in the National Guard tends to be older, more experienced and more educated than the active Army, Shipp said those strengths will further develop the leadership structure within the engineer company.

Since he joined the Army out of high school, Shipp said he has seen and learned much to help him in his new role. As a young soldier assigned to a battalion at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Shipp deployed after the Panama Invasion in 1989. During the soldiers' time in the Central American country, they provided reconnaissance within the country.

Shipp also deployed to Saudi Arabia days after former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein led his troops into Kuwait in August 1990, claiming the county as one of Iraq's provinces.

"Our unit was almost there immediately," he said. "We set up an anti-armor defense near the Saudi Arabia-Kuwait border."

More than 20 years later, Shipp, now a full-time truck driver, is anxious for the engineer company's annual training in June at Ft. Polk La.

"I'm looking forward to A.T.," Shipp said. "We'll be able to show the brigade what we can do."

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