NEWS | April 7, 2022

First Colorado Army National Guardsman receives prestigious Knowlton Award

By U.S. Army Capt. Remington Henderson, Colorado Army National Guard Public Affairs

Centennial, Colo. – U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Geoffrey Essman was presented the Knowlton Award in a ceremony at the 168th Regional Training Institute, Fort Carson, Colorado, Feb. 6, 2022.

Essman is the first Colorado Army National Guardsman to receive the prestigious award.

Essman is the senior military intelligence Non-commissioned Officer in the COARNG. He started his career as a Morse Code Interceptor (98H) and, over his 28-year career, has served in leadership positions at all levels.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Essman’s work as a military intelligence professional is undeniable and well-documented, but what is even more important is his dedication to mentor and coach Soldiers,” COARNG Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Lt. Col. Quinton German said.  “This award is a testament to his service, dedication, and his consistent presence as a leader and mentor to not only his Soldiers but the intelligence community as a whole.”

Essman is currently assigned as part of the COARNG’s Commander’s Action Group, focused on innovation in talent management.

One of Essman’s significant contributions as a military intelligence Soldier is standing up what is now Company D (MICO), 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) of which he later served as the unit’s first sergeant.

Company D was the first unit designated as “Mountain” to be stationed in Colorado since the famed 10th Mountain Division was founded in 1943 at Camp Hale, Leadville, Colorado.

"Recognition is an important part of having an inclusive culture, and awards like this promote a sense of community,” German said. “This is so important for smaller groups like military intelligence to have their efforts and contributions recognized.”

Any officer, warrant officer, enlisted Soldier, or civilian may receive the Knowlton Award. They must have demonstrated excellence in intelligence or superior support to MI, and must have the highest standards of integrity, moral character, and dedication to duty and demonstrate superb professional competence and leadership.

The Knowlton Award’s namesake is Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton, an American patriot who is considered America’s first intelligence professional. Born Nov. 22, 1740, he served in the French and Indian War and later served as a lieutenant colonel during the American Revolution. General of the Army George Washington ordered Knowlton Aug. 12, 1776, to select a group of men to carry out reconnaissance missions. America's first official spies, "Knowlton's Rangers," were also the first organized American elite troops. The date "1776" on the modern U.S. Army's intelligence service seal refers to the formation of Knowlton's Rangers.

“I am grateful to have both been recommended and to receive the award,” Essman said. “So few times do Guard Soldiers receive the same recognition and the accolades that our Active Duty counterparts do. You can observe, every day, Colorado Guard Soldiers making positive impacts that are worthy of their respective branch’s award.”