Fort Gordon singles out, honors nine of its outstanding members
Distinguished members of the Central Savannah River Area, Fort Gordon leadership, and key individuals of Fort Gordon organizations and businesses, jointly showed their support for award recipients.
Col. Samuel G. Anderson, the installation garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stockton, the garrison command sergeant major, presented Army Commendation Medals to each of the service members with civilians receiving the Commander’s Award. All recipients received citations.
The five service members and four civilians recognized in the ceremony were Sgt. Justin Tyndall, service member of the year; Sgt. 1st Class James MacKay, noncommissioned officer of the year; Marine Sgt. Mathew Ogonji Jr., instructor of the year; Sgt. Robert Llewellyn, volunteer for the year; LaVerne Groom, civilian of the year; Don Townley, firefighter of the year; Jerome McLaughlin, military police officer of the year; and Robert Caruso, security guard of the year.
Anderson thanked everyone who had a part in putting the event together as well as all the community partners, sponsors and donors.
“Your presence and your kind tokens of appreciation for our awardees are evidence of the tremendous support Fort Gordon receives from our neighboring civilian communities,” he said. “I want to thank you for being here to show that support today, and for what you do for us each and every day, here in the CSRA.”
The commander compared the installation award presentation to the many awards programs featured this season in the entertainment industry.
“In many ways, our own year-end awards program today is like those award shows,” Anderson said. “In choosing today’s awardees from our own nine categories we looked closely at all of the very deserving quarterly award winners. For in each category we selected an annual award winner, but I cannot emphasize this enough: there were no losers.”
“Every service member and civilian that we recognized during our quarterly awards deserves our thanks and praise,” he added.
Anderson went on to point out the difference between the awards given out in Hollywood and those given out during the Fort Gordon award ceremony.
“We’re honoring service members who pledged their lives in defense of the nation,” Anderson said. “We’re honoring a policeman, a firefighter, and a guard who protect our lives and property. We’re honoring a civilian who protects the security and efficiency of our communications network. We’re honoring a chef who prides herself on a standard of excellence with the meals she provides to the men and women of our community. And, we’re honoring someone who freely volunteered his time just to make our community a better place.”
“While our ceremony today won’t be televised live in millions of homes around the country, you should remember our awardees have made a far more significant contribution to our community and to our nation than any actor, filmmaker, or musician who’s being honored this month.”
Anderson talked about the challenges of 2013. He cited the sequestration, furloughs and government shutdown.
“In the face of it all our service members and employees maintained focus and continued to work the mission,” he said. “And our awardees persevered through it all to achieve excellence in the face of adversity. I want to thank them for their dedication, their focus, their commitment, and inspired duty performance that led them here today.”
According to the Fort Gordon Volunteer of the Year the experience was a humbling one.
“As president of the installation BOSS program its members and I volunteer everywhere we can,” Llewellyn said. “We are trying to build a connection on and off the post and improve the area for everyone.”