At 24 years old, United States Army Sgt. Gage Nofsinger has seen more than most people in their early 20’s. After two stints in Afghanistan collecting human intelligence to help keep troops safe, Nofsinger was recently moved to Staten Island, N.Y., where he serves as a recruiter for the armed forces. On December 17, the New Jersey Devils celebrated Nofsinger’s service and named him Hero of the Game.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay-area, Nofsinger became a soldier on September 21st, 2010, a year after graduating from high school. Nofsinger, then 19 years old, said he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself and chose the army due to the number of opportunities available in the service. “It was tough to find jobs, and I wasn’t very interested in going to college,” Nofsinger said.
After enlisting, Nofsinger was sent to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and received job training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. In 2011, Nofsinger was dispatched to Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was assigned to the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. With the brigade, Nofsinger was deployed to Afghanistan.
Nofsinger was first sent to Afghanistan from May 2012 until February 2013, and after additional training, went back from May 2014 until February 2015 to work collect human intelligence, “working with sources and doing interrogations.”
For his service, Nofsinger received three Army Commendation Medals, which are awarded for accomplishment that has an impact beyond his own unit. “As an intelligence collector, the intelligence that I collected didn’t just affect my unit, it affected all of the units in Afghanistan.” Nofsinger received a medal for each of his deployments, and a third for his work while not deployed.
Nofsinger also received two Army Achievement Medals, which are awarded for singular events. As a private, Nofsinger was put in charge of a team for a month-long training rotation, and his other medal was awarded for teaching his unit how to utilize a “wireless, secret, computer system.”
While Nofsinger was deployed twice, he served in three distinct campaigns, as his second stint in Afghanistan spanned two phases. For his participation, he received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three stars. Nofsinger was also awarded the Combat Action Badge.
After returning from Afghanistan early this year, Nofsinger was assigned to work in Staten Island, bringing the Californian to the East Coast for the first time.
“I’m usually not one to stand out and take credit for anything,” Nofsinger said of his recognition. “It’s pretty cool that the Devils organization takes the time to put this together, not just for myself. I’ve seen a lot of other people who have been recognized as well.”