FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - (April 20, 2012) The 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders, were 1,250 volunteers called to action by President William McKinley in 1898 to assist in the war efforts during the Spanish-American War. The United States Army was fragile then and had very little manpower after the American Civil War. Over a century later, the Army is the strongest in the world and is supported by an army of volunteers.

Fort Wainwright recognized its own volunteers during the 2012 ceremony at the Southern Lights Chapel April 11. Guest speaker, Alice Palumbo, wife of United States Army Alaska Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Raymond P. Palumbo, praised the contributions of the numerous volunteers recognized during the ceremony. "I have just 10 words for you," Palumbo said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you; what you do matters."

The U.S. Volunteer Corps is considered "The Force behind The Force."

The force of volunteers on post is made up of active-duty Soldiers, Family members, retirees and civilians. "We are here to honor everyone who gives of themselves," said Charles Lyons, Army Community Service Volunteer Family Programs manager, "whether they gave an hour or thousands of hours.

We have a great community of volunteers." Volunteers on Fort Wainwright work at 46 organizations and have logged more than 10,000 combined hours over the past year.

"This group of selfless individuals works at Child, Youth and School Services; ACS; Outdoor Recreation; the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area; the bowling alley and Bassett Army Community Hospital, to name a few," he said. Everyone who wants to volunteer is placed into the Volunteer Management Information System and when approved, is placed in areas that can most benefit from his or her skills.

During this year's event, Charles Hamby, who has donated over 15,000 hours at Bassett Community Army Hospital, received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Hamby, who donated more than 1,700 hours in 2011 said, "That's about 40 to 45 hours a week. I'm just glad I could help."

According to www.presidentialserviceawards.gov, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation was established in 2003 to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers are making in our communities and encourage more people to serve. The Council created the President's Volunteer Service Award program as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.

Col. Ronald M. Johnson, commander, United States Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, presented Hamby with the highest honor bestowed on a member of the U.S. Volunteers Corps: a personalized certificate and letter from the president, as well as a blue and gold lapel pin given only to those who have volunteered more than 4,000 hours over a lifetime. "The recognition was long overdue and well-deserved," Lyons said.

Hamby appreciated the recognition, "I honestly did not expect this," he said, and encouraged others to volunteer if they are able. "It doesn't cost you anything and it feels good to help."

At the conclusion of the ceremony Johnson was presented with a symbolic check showing that the 58,850.3 hours given equates to $1,548,351.39 donated to Army programs.

Page last updated Fri April 27th, 2012 at 19:45