Army Chief of Public Affairs Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo (left) and Sgt. Maj. Phil Prater (right) present Bonita Riddley with the first place award for excellence in community relations special events April 1 at the 2008 Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium at McLean, Va. Riddley is a community relations officer with U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

MCLEAN, Va. (Sine Pari, Apr. 3, 2008) - The 96th Civil Affairs Battalion and the USASOC Headquarters received a first place award for community relations special events April 1 at the U.S. Army World Wide Public Affairs Symposium.

This is the second consecutive year USASOC has received a top honor for community relations. Last year, the USASOC parachute team, the Black Daggers, received the Chief of Public Affairs Special Award of Excellence for their community relations program.

This year's award recognized the efforts and volunteer work of Soldiers from the 96th CAB in helping the City Rescue Mission in Fayetteville, N.C., rebuild after a fire.

"The award for the 96th CA Battalion is yet another validation of the tremendous character of Army SOF Soldiers," said Carol Darby, chief of community relations, USASOC. "The important point is that our Soldiers are recognized for the good deeds they work here at home."

Darby added that just as in any military operation, a successful community relations program is a team effort and requires the support of the commanders.

"A solid COMREL program bonds your military and civilian communities into one," adds Darby. "It's a combination of all of us and our shared connections that enable the Army to move thousands and thousands of Soldiers to war, while the rock of the effort is the communities that stand by those left here to carry on."

Receiving the award only serves to motivate the USASOC staff, said Darby.

"This award means we are going to work harder than ever," said Darby. "We want to make sure our hometown folk know who their Army SOF Soldiers are and what they bring to Fayetteville, Savannah, Clarksville and many other dots on the U.S. map."

Page last updated Thu April 3rd, 2008 at 18:03