Soldier volunteers 'for love of game'
February 5, 2010
FORT POLK, La. -- Soldiers voluntarily raise their right hands to selflessly serve their country. For one Fort Polk troop though, voluntary service extends beyond assuring the safety and security of his nation.
To recognize Soldiers for going above and beyond the call of duty to serve citizens within their communities, President George H. W. Bush authorized the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal Jan. 9, 1993. One 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Soldier received recognition Jan. 22 for exemplifying Bush's intent.
Spc. Dustin Napier, squadron chaplain's assistant, 3-89 Cav, volunteers his time not only in churches but also on baseball diamonds. He serves as the youth coach for Fort Polk's Child, Youth and School Services' Reds baseball team. The Reds consists of 10 kids, ages 7 and 8. Coaching the Reds gives Napier a chance to relive his childhood, he said.
"I played baseball from T-ball through high school," said Napier. "After my Family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, I became a Reds fan; so my team is named the Reds."
Napier coaches in an 11-team league. As a volunteer, Napier's volunteerism is at the core of what CYSS is looking for from Soldiers.
"I've seen him working five days a week with these kids," said Melissa Saint, Child and Youth Program assistant at CYSS. "Coach Napier is really dedicated. Without him, we lose the opportunity to have a team to coach."
Napier shares his giving nature with children and parents alike. This can be traced to his work as a chaplain's assistant.
"I've been with 3-89 (Cav) for three years now," said Napier. "The parents understand that (military) duty comes first, but I make time to coach and be there for their kids."
Using personal time to better the community has endeared Napier to his fellow Soldiers, leaders and others within the Fort Polk community.
"He is a reflection of today's Soldier," said Capt. Henry Son, squadron chaplain for 3-89 Cav. "He's a volunteer at churches, hospitals and the little league. His selfless service goes beyond duty hours."
Napier understands juggling his duties as a chaplain's assistant and baseball coach can be difficult. However, having a great support network helps him make it all happen.
"It's a little hard, but I have a lot of support from my chaplain as well as my NCO channel," said Napier.
The coaching bug bit Napier while he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"When we returned from Iraq, I went to CYSS to look into it," said Napier. "I really like to be around kids and baseball."
Napier's duties for the youth team include coaching basic baseball fundamentals such as sliding, fielding and hitting. However, he also interacts with players' parents on a constant basis, developing a good rapport with them.
"The parents help whenever Coach Napier needs them to," said Saint. "They see his dedication to the team and kids; he is a great mentor."
Volunteering in the local community defines everything the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal is about. Napier said he hopes others will volunteer as well.
"If people want to do it, they will find a way," said Napier. "Helping out in the community feels great. People should see that we (Soldiers) care."