Fort Benning: Black Hat of the Year ceremony today

The 2009 Black Hat of the Year award will be presented this morning to Staff Sgt. Rommel Hurtado, an Airborne School instructor on Fort Benning.

The award’s name comes from the black hats worn by all Airborne School instructors, who must first “earn the right” to wear the headgear of one of the most respected instructors in the Army. Instructors from the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, are eligible for the award.

Hurtado, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, First Battalion., 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, will receive his award in an 11 a.m. ceremony along with an Army Commendation Medal, a four-day pass, exemption from battalion duty for one year, regimental and battalion coins and numerous gifts from sponsors.

He has been an instructor at the Airborne School for nearly two years and has served in the Army for 10 years in various assignments including the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. and 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Hurtado has deployed four times in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

He earned the Black Hat of the Year distinction following a month-long competition that focused on all aspects of Airborne training. Soldiers were graded in a number of areas, including classroom instruction, technical abilities while performing practical work in the aircraft, jumpmaster personnel inspection and sustained Airborne training.