FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hundreds of members of the Fort Rucker community turned out to honor 12 retiring servicemembers and one Army civilian during the quarterly retirement ceremony July 28 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Honoring those who've selflessly served their nation is important for Fort Rucker, and for the entire country, said Col. Stanley O. Smith, commandant of the Warrant Officer Career College.

"President Calvin Coolidge once said, 'A nation which forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten,'" Smith said during the ceremony. "All these heroes standing before you volunteered to serve our nation. They represent the approximate 1 percent of Americans who protect and defend the other 99 percent."

The 13 willingly accepted all the challenges and sacrifices that come along with military service, the colonel added.

"It is a comforting thought that patriotic Americans continue to sacrifice for the greater cause," Smith said. "They have endured hardships, deployments, wars and conflicts in foreign lands, deployments for training, extended time away from Families, and periodic changes of duty stations where Families must adjust to new communities, schools, churches, communities, cultures, jobs and friends.

"But it wasn't just the servicemember that sacrificed, it was the Families as well," he added. "That is why the Family members are part of this ceremony, for they are also American heroes."

The retirees:

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mickey D. Jett - Jett received the Legion of Merit in recognition of 25 years of outstanding military service, culminating as deputy garrison chaplain at Fort Rucker. Some of his assignments included Greece, Germany, Belgium, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, Iraq and Afghanistan. He plans to retire in Huntsville.

Lt. Col. Mikael R. Ash - Ash received the Legion of Merit in recognition of 23 years of outstanding military service, culminating as commander of the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment. Ash's assignments include Hawaii, Germany, Bosnia and Iraq. He and his wife plan to retire in Dothan.

Lt. Col. Jennifer J. Ash - Ash received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 21 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the chief of the Air Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Rucker. Her assignments included Iraq; Germany; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Knox, Ky.; and Fort Hood, Texas. She and her husband plan to retire in Dothan.

CW4 Jelpher D. Hillsman - Hillsman received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 28 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the foreign military platoon leader, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment. His assignments included two tours in Korea; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and Fort Stewart, Ga. He plans to retire in Ozark.

CW4 Donald Sanders - Sanders received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 27 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the Aviation maintenance officer course chief for the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment. His assignments included Germany and Hawaii. He plans to retire in Enterprise.

CW4 David R. Doig - Doig received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 23 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the student management officer, TH-67 and CH-47 standardization pilot and instrument evaluator for the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment. His previous assignments included Honduras, Korea, Alaska, Somalia, Germany and two tours in Iraq. He plans to retire in Pensacola, Fla.

CW3 Ronald D. Miller - Miller received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 21 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the special projects officer for Air Traffic Services Command at Fort Rucker. His assignments included Korea, Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Kuwait. He plans to retire in the Fort Rucker area.

CW3 Tom Phillips - Phillips received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 20 years of outstanding military service, culminating as Shell Heliport safety officer with the 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment. His assignments included the Mediterranean Sea, Korea and Iraq. He plans to retire in Huntsville.

First Sgt. Michael L. Collins - Collins received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 20 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the first sergeant of B Co., 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment. His assignments included Honduras, Hawaii, Korea and three tours to Iraq. He plans to retire in Enterprise.

First Sgt. Timothy S. Clay - Clay received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 20 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the first sergeant of A Co., 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment. His assignments included Korea, Hawaii, Alaska, Haiti and Iraq. He plans to retire in Naples, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Troy A. Thomas Sr. - Thomas received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 20 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the platoon sergeant and quality assurance NCO in charge of F Co., 2-1 General Support Aviation Battalion at Fort Riley, Kan. His assignments included Korea, Honduras and Iraq. He plans to retire in Dothan.

Sgt. 1st Class Peter J. Ponvelle - Ponvelle received the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of 20 years of outstanding military service, culminating as the OH-58F Field Support Team NCO in charge with the Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager, Recon/Attack at Fort Rucker. His assignments included Hawaii; Fort Polk, La.; and Fort Eustis, Va. He plans to retire in Huntsville.

Earl Flynn - Flynn received the Superior Civilian Service Medal in recognition of 32 years of outstanding service, culminating as the chief of the customer service branch of the business operations division of the Directorate of Public Works at Fort Rucker. Besides Fort Rucker, he served at Charleston Naval Ship Yard. He plans to retire in Charleston, S.C.

Page last updated Wed August 3rd, 2011 at 00:00