(March 8, 1999) -- On behalf of Gov. Tom Ridge, Maj. Gen. William Lynch, acting state Adjutant General, today announced that the "best of the best" in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard have been honored with the prestigious 1998 Soldier of the Year awards.

The winners in the three categories are: Sergeant First Class James Dolan of Jonestown, Lebanon County; Staff Sergeant Brian Guistwhite of Etters, York County; and Specialist Dana Anderson of Crabtree, Westmoreland County.

"With our growing relevance in supporting the nation's defense, the National Guard depends on having the best, the brightest and the most capable force we can muster," Maj. Gen. Lynch said. "To be chosen out of that select group as soldier of the year is an honor of which our winners can be justly proud.

"Both the Governor and I offer our sincere congratulations, and our deep gratitude for their patriotism and service."

All 15,000 enlisted men and women of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard are potential candidates for Soldier of the Year. The selection process involves a series of stringent evaluation boards at Guard units across the state. The boards interview and rank candidates on the basis of technical proficiency, leadership skills, and military knowledge and bearing.

Pennsylvania's winners will compete against the top Guard, Reserve and active-duty soldiers from throughout the eastern U.S. in Little Rock, Arkansas, in April.

Dolan won in the category of Active Guard and Reserve Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year. He is employed as Assistant Inspector General in the Headquarters, State Area Command, at Fort Indiantown Gap. Dolan joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1986 after four years of active service in the Marine Corps. The following year, he began a full-time career with the Guard. He began his current assignment in 1996.

Guistwhite is a combat engineer squad leader with Company C, 337th Engineer Battalion in York. He won as Traditional (part-time) Guard NCO of the Year, and he also received the Lieutenant General Milton G. Baker NCO Leadership Award. Guistwhite enlisted in the Army in 1989, served in Operation Desert Storm, and transferred to the Pennsylvania National Guard after completing active duty in 1992. In civilian life, he is a project engineer for St. Onge Company in York. He also is a master's of business administration (MBA) candidate at Penn State Harrisburg.

Anderson is an infantryman with Company B, 1-110th Infantry (Mechanized) in Greensburg. He joined the unit in 1997 after four years on active duty with the Army (including tours in Panama and Haiti). Anderson currently works as a machinist for Preform Specialties Inc. of Brennizer. He also is a graduate of the Municipal Police Academy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and will complete the associate's degree program in criminal justice at Westmoreland County Community College in April.

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