By Patrick Buffett, Fort Lee Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. – The staff of the Fort Lee Garrison Public Affairs Office earned four first-place nods and finished strong in three other categories at the Installation Management Command level of the 2015 Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Army Journalism Competition.

The results were announced Feb. 17. All first- and second-place winners at IMCOM are forwarded for judging at the Army-wide level. The announcement of those winners is usually released in late March. There is a follow-on DOD-level competition as well called the Thomas Jefferson Awards.

T. Anthony Bell garnered the top spots in feature writing and photojournalism during IMCOM judging. His feature article titled “Dignity They So Well Deserved” told the little-known story of an African-American Army veteran who was not allowed to fight on the front lines during World War II, but was given the duty of burying thousands of white Soldiers killed in combat. Bell’s winning photojournalism entry titled “Last of the Railroaders” focused on a Transportation Corps noncommissioned officer who was facing major changes in rail operations to meet the needs of a transforming Army.

A second-place finish in sports writing and a third-place finish in feature photo also were among Bell’s accomplishments. He is no stranger to receiving a wealth of fourth-estate accolades. The 22-year Army veteran and 12-year civil service employee has consistently won photography and writing awards at IMCOM and Army level every year since 2009. He was selected as Army Civilian Journalist of the Year in 2012. Bell is the senior reporter on the Traveller staff.

Public affairs specialist Susan Garling earned first-place in the community relations – individual achievement category. The IMCOM judging panel awarded top marks for the positive impact she made while facilitating an Aug. 15 Fort Lee tour for 29 Battle of the Bulge survivors from World War II. Highlights of the event included an installation tour, a ceremony in which the Chief of Ordnance presented a certificate of appreciation to each veteran, and a wreath-laying at the flag pole adjacent to the 1st Logistics Memorial.

Garling joined the PA staff in October 2012. She is the community relations coordinator for the garrison. Her duties also include extensive administrative and budgeting support to the PA team and occasionally writing articles or capturing photos for the post newspaper. This is her second consecutive win in the same category. Last year, her entry finished first at Army level as well.

The second-place award for story series during IMCOM judging went to Amy Perry, production/news assistant editor. Her three-part entry titled “A Sacred Oath” explored the significance of earning U.S. citizenship through the stories of Fort Lee Soldiers hailing from impoverished or underdeveloped countries.

Perry is an Air Force veteran. She joined the government civilian workforce at Fort Lee in 2008. Her many achievements as a public affairs specialist include a Thomas Jefferson Award for photography in 2002 and an IMCOM-level KLW award for news photo in 2013.

Rounding out the list of journalism competition successes at IMCOM this year is the PA team’s first-place finish in the outstanding communications campaign category. The entry focused on efforts to inform the community about changes to installation access requirements that took effect in July 2015. A wide range of factors were considered during category judging including written products, online information sources, community meetings and outcomes. The PA team was lauded for its proactivity and the multi-tiered approach that resulted in a well-informed audience and a smooth transition during implementation.

Stephen Baker, Garrison Public Affairs director, offered his reaction to the overall IMCOM-level results, saying he’s “not really all that surprised” the team is faring so well. “What I hear from organization leaders and community members here on a routine basis is how much they appreciate the support provided by these public affairs professionals,” he said. “It’s pretty clear they take pride in their work and consistently perform above the standard.

“We have now won 29 KLW awards (IMCOM and Army level) over the past six years,” Baker added. “I am proud of the creative, high-quality work produced by our team.”

The Army journalism competition is named after Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware, a Medal of Honor recipient who served as the chief of information for the Department of the Army from September 1964 through November 1967. He was killed in a 1968 helicopter crash in Vietnam.