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”Quill of the Year


January 21, war reporter from the USA Michael Yon was given ”Quill of the Year 2008" award established by the leadership of the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence and the Armed Forces. Colonel Antanas Jurgaitis, Defence, Army, Air and Naval Force Attaché of the Republic of Lithuania to the USA and Canada, gave the award and a letter from the Chief of Defence of Lithuania to the reporter in his office based in Washington D.C. (USA).

The reporter was awarded for the article he published in his website describing Lithuanian military personnel serving in Afghanistan in an original manner.

M. Yon said it was an honour and a great joy to accept such an award. He also shared impressions from a visit to Afghanistan with the US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.  ”Though a small nation, Lithuania makes an important contribution helping develop peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said the reporter.

M. Yon was interested in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and participation of Lithuanian troops  in international operations. He considered visiting Lithuania for a better acquaintance with the country's Armed Forces.

M. Yon plans travelling to Afghanistan in the short run.

”Quill of the Year"  nomination has been awarded since 2001 to the most distinguished media representatives for their energy, initiative, and professional performance in informing society about the national defence and armed forces. In 2008, one main prize, two second place prizes and several special prizes were established.

The main ”Quill of the Year" prize – a set of framed senior officer's tips of baldric belts – was given to the News Radio’s editorial staff for their persistent focus on the national defence system. The second place prize – framed set of inferior rank officer's tips of baldric belts – was given to Reda Hofmanaite (LRT Television) for the initiative and professional informing of the society about national defence issues and international operations. War reporter Michael Yon was awarded as the second place winner.

For the second time nomination of ”service shoe" was given: this year the award went to the Baltic News Service Agency for persistent ”treading" on the national defence issues. In 2007, the nomination was given to Birute Vysniauskaite (daily newspaper ”Lietuvos rytas").

In ancient tradition metal-tipped baldric belts were fastened on the right shoulder. One of the theories for invention of baldric belts interprets them as stylised pens. In the 18th c. the first ones to wear baldric belts were aide-de-camps and envoys of senior-ranking commanders. Writing means attached to belts and dangling under neck were used to put down often altered commanders' instructions in the battle field conditions. Later pencils were replaced by leaden ink pens that gradually lost their primary function and evolved into traditional elements of military uniform.

Several special nominations were established this year: engraved 105mm Howitzer shell cases were given for constant attention paid to military history and military life in TV broadcast ”Poziuris” to Saulius Bartkus; for the most impressive concert in extreme conditions for Lithuanian peacekeepers in Afghanistan to Marijonas Mikutavicius; and for endurance while representing ”media forces" in the ”Journalist's March 2008" to Vytautas Beniusis. Reporters voted for Cpt. Marius Petraitis as the best instructor in the march. The instructor said that teaching reporters military skills was not harder than training new recruits. He received annual subscription of daily newspaper ”Kauno diena" along with the nomination.

Shell cases for the first Lithuanian TV serial about the Armed Forces ”The Honour Company Garbes kuopa" were given to film director Raimundas Banionis, author of screenplay Aidas Puklevicius, producer Rolandas Skaisgiris, and actors Rimantas Bagdzevicius and Ramunas Cicenas. During the ceremony R. Banionis thanked soldiers of Lithuanian SOF who managed to put for him the most important things in life into simple words.

Special prizes were given to editorial staff of women's magazine ”Lilit” for promulgating artistic approach to the Armed Forces, and to photographer Tomas Kauneckas for excellent embodiment of the idea.

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