New Cumberland, Pa. --
Local Marine Cpl. Bryan Nygaard, a native of Ocala, Fla. and 2003 graduate of Ocala Christian Academy, was recently awarded by the Department of Defense and United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondent Association during two separate ceremonies at the Defense Information School aboard Fort George G. Meade, Md. on May 10 and at Joint Base Andrews on July 27, 2013.
Nygaard, a Marine Corps combat correspondent and currently the Marketing and Public Affairs representative at Recruiting Station Baltimore, received the Merit Award for Best Personality Feature from Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Paxton, and President of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondent Association Bill Hauptfleisch at Joint Base Andrews. He was presented the Thomas Jefferson Award at Fort Meade later this year for the same article titled “Illinois Corpsman works with Combat Engineers, proves his worth in Garmsir.”
According to the Thomas Jefferson Awards website, “The Thomas Jefferson Award Program is a competition for military print and broadcast products. The annual contest is sponsored by the American Forces Information Service and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs to stimulate and reward excellence and professionalism in military print and broadcast media.”
The awards for these articles are given annually by the DOD and USMCCCA to service members who display excellence in journalism. Nygaard wrote this particular personality feature while deployed to Afghanistan with II Marine Expeditionary Force.
For his winning article, Nygaard traveled five days in a convoy through muddy, improvised explosive device-laden roads to get to his destination. There, he chronicled the efforts of 21-year-old Petty Officer Third Class Michael Soto, a Lake Villa, Ill. native who was entrusted with rendering emergency medical treatment to Marines in Afghanistan.
"I'm very thankful to have received these awards. I owe my success as a combat correspondent to my instructors at the Defense Information School and my leadership at II Marine Expeditionary Force,” said Nygaard. “I have always been held to a high standard when it comes to my work.”
The passion he has for his work shows in his genuine concern for his subjects he writes about.
“The greater reward though is seeing Doc Soto's story featured on the front page of his hometown newspaper, The Lake County News-Sun. To me, that is the greatest reward of all. I know that his parents saw their son on the front page of the weekend edition of their newspaper."
In his short time in the Marine Corps, Nygaard has already had experiences some people may not see in their entire careers.
He joined the Marine Corps in 2009 and arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. on March 30.
Since then, he has deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 with IIMEF based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he routinely covered combat operations, patrols, community outreach events, and documented the governance and development of the Afghan army and police. His work as a journalist oftentimes placed him in the line of fire, and he received the Combat Action Ribbon for engagements in Nahr-e-Saraj and Musa Qalah.
In October 2012 he was sent to New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy struck. While there, he documented the humanitarian relief efforts of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In March of 2013 he was transferred to RS Baltimore to serve as the MPA where he currently resides with his wife, Christina.
His decorations include the Navy Achievement Medal (2nd award), Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the International Security Forces (ISAF) Medal.