Special Photo Cpl. Patrick Paul was named 2012 Soldier of the Year by the first brigade of the Georgia State Defense Force, an all-volunteer, unpaid military force.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- An admitted video game nerd and movie nut, Corporal Patrick Paul was awarded a high honor by a statewide military force.
Paul, a member of the third battalion, was named "2012 Soldier of the Year" by the first brigade of the Georgia State Defense Force, an all-volunteer, unpaid military force, which reports to the governor.
The award is given annually to a soldier who demonstrates the highest degree of professionalism, said Lt. Col. J. Michael Hayden, third Battalion Commander for the Georgia State Defense Force, which is based in Monroe. It's the most coveted peer-recognized award in the defense force, Hayden said.
"I feel like I try to take my job seriously, and pay attention to my uniform and appearance," Paul said in a news release. "As a member of the third, I am honored to represent our fine unit, and our brigade."
Paul, 36, and his wife Samantha live in Lawrenceville, and he works as a general manager of his family's auto collision repair shop. He is a Norcross High School graduate.
Paul was sworn in to the GSDF in 2010, and said he joined after he witnessed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in London.
"The disaster response aspect of the GSDF is the most attractive to me," he said, "being able to help your fellow citizen in their time of need."
Paul said the GSDF allows him to serve in the military without losing his career or spouse. Paul is the only person of his generation in his family or his wife's family to extend Army service that dates to World War II.
Paul joined the GSDF with no prior military experience, but took Community Emergency Response Team training and the GSDF Soldier Leadership Course.
Col. Edward Hightower, first brigade commander, said Paul was the top choice at the final level of the selection process, and added the award recognizes the "absolutely best of the best in today's professional volunteer solider."
Hayden called Paul another in a long line of third battalion volunteer soldiers, and an example for the rest of the GSDF soldiers.