Army Retiree with a Tradition of Service
August 28, 2009
BRUSSELS, Belgium - At a ceremony held Aug. 11 at U.S. Army Garrison Brussels, retired Army Col. Alan Phillips received the Army's Commander's Award for Public Service at the hands of Vice Adm. William Sullivan, the U.S. Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee.
Phillips received the award for his past 20 years of active, Brussels-based, service to the Army and military retiree community in Europe and to several U.S.-oriented expatriate activities.
In his presiding officer's remarks, the vice admiral took pains to place those 20 years of service in a context of a long family history of service. Phillips' father, George Phillips, was a Naval Academy graduate who won a Navy Cross for heroism while in command of a minesweeper sunk in combat during the Sicily landings July 10, 1943. His son, Alan, went on to West Point, graduating with the class of 1959, and beginning a distinguished 30-year career as an infantry officer.
The younger Phillips won a Silver Star for an action at Dak To in the Republic of Viet Nam on July 10, 1967, exactly 24 years, to the day, after the action for which his father was awarded the Navy Cross. And the Phillips being recognized in Brussels, Sullivan explained, is the father of a Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel.
Other than a brief interruption for functional training, Phillips and his wife, Mary Ann, spent the last eight years of his active Army career in Brussels, where he served, successively, as Military Assistant to the Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and as U.S. Defense AttachAfA to Belgium. Leaving active duty in 1989, Phillips became an Army retiree, remaining in Brussels for the next 20 years, employed by the private sector.
But retirement from the Army did not stop Phillips from continuing to serve. In his off-time, he involved himself fully in retiree affairs. In 1993, he was elected president of the Benelux Military Retiree Council. In 1998, he was selected to serve on the Army in Europe Retiree Council, becoming (in 2002), vice-president of that council.
His Army volunteer "second career" culminated with his 2006 appointment to the Chief of Staff of the Army's Retiree Council. Besides his steady involvement in retiree affairs - at the region, theater and Army-wide level - Phillips also found time to serve in major leadership positions with the American Overseas Memorial Day Association and the American Club of Brussels.
Phillips accepted the award on behalf of himself and his wife - "who has always been part of everything I've ever accomplished" - in front of a large audience of appreciative friends and serving Soldiers.
He offered them two simple messages: "First, nothing ever gets done without somebody volunteering to step up to the plate. Things don't just magically happen; we need to actively advocate.
"Second, we don't stop taking care of troops just because we are retired. The way I see it, we retirees are receiving reduced compensation for reduced service - not zero service."
Col. Alan Phillips, U.S. Army, Retired: "retired, still serving."