NY National Guard Photojournalist is Army's Military Photographer of the Year

Sgt. Harley Jelis, a Milford, Ct. resident assigned to Camp Smith Training Site, is recognized for outstanding work

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Sgt. Harley Jelis (right) shoots photos and video during the 2017 New York Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition .

LATHAM, NY (04/12/2017) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Sgt. Harley Jelis, a New Milford, Conn. resident, has been named the United States' Army's Military Photographer of the Year.

Jelis, who is assigned to the 138th Public Affairs Detachment at Camp Smith Training Site in Cortlandt Manor, was selected for the honor during the Army's annual Keith L. Ware Communications Award competition.

The competition, named after a Major General who headed the Army's public affairs efforts in the 1960s, recognizes the work of Army photographers, journalists, and broadcasters in the Active Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard.

Jelis is scheduled to receive his award from Major General Malcom B. Frost, the Chief of Army Public Affairs, during an Army-wide public affairs conference in November.

As a public affairs specialist Jelis is responsible for producing written and photographic coverage of service members assigned to or working alongside the 53rd Troop Command or other New York Army National Guard units.

"Sgt. Harley Jelis has a terrific ability to truly capture the emotion and intensity of what our Soldiers experience in training," said Col. Richard Goldenberg, Public Affairs Officer for the New York National Guard. "He puts himself alongside the troops and immerses himself in the environment, giving viewers a vantage point of soldiering that few ever see."

Jelis joined the New York Army National Guard in 2008 and originally served as an artilleryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery. He transferred to the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in 2013 as a fire support specialist but also started working as a unit public affairs representative an additional duty.

He began working full-time as a public affairs Soldier during the brigade's deployment to Kuwait in 2013 and 2014. Jelis traveled to a number of Persian Gulf areas talking pictures of training operations to include New York Army National Guard helicopters landing on U.S. Navy ships and joint training operations with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Saudi Arabian armed forces.

He became a full-fledged public affairs Soldier in 2015.

In 2016 he supported the New York Army National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during a three-week long deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Jelis documented training conducted by almost 4,500 troops from the National Guard, Army Reserve and Active Army during the exercise.

Many of his award winning photographs were taken during this exercise.

His photographs have been used by a number of military websites and publications and have been used by the Army Times, Business Insider, and the Albany Times Union among other publications.

The key to getting good photographs of military action is to spend time with the unit so the Soldiers get to know the photographer and he gets to know them, Jelis explained. His videography training influences the way he takes photographs, Jelis added.

Jelis holds a Bachelor's Degree in Documentary Studies, focusing on film and photography, from the State University of New York at Albany and a Master's Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Marist College.He is a graduate of Arlington High School in Lagrangeville.

He is also a graduate of the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland.

His military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

Jelis is employed as marketing director and outreach coordinator Blue Sky Behavioral Health in Danbury, Conn.