White Plume Award honors local
January 10, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 10, 2013) -- A local man dedicated to providing the very best to Soldiers and their Families received the prestigious White Plume Award Dec. 20.
Ken Jackson, former Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation employee, received the award from Davis. D. Tindoll Jr., Installation Management Command Atlantic Region director.
The award was established to recognize outstanding service and contribution to Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. It is the Army's highest medal for achievement in support of DFMWR, according to Evy Bludsworth, deputy director of DFMWR.
"Winners of the White Plume represent true service to the Soldier, the Army and the nation," she said.
Jackson's son, Brian, said the award was well deserved for his years of service to the government.
"The amount of Soldiers and Families he has touched through the years is amazing. Our whole Family was so proud that Mr. Tindoll came down to present [the award] to him, telling him personally that he has done so much for Fort Rucker and DFMWR," said Brian Jackson, the DFMWR program manager.
Jackson, who retired last year, was serving as the community recreation division officer in DFMWR, but has held many positions on Fort Rucker.
"He has served Fort Rucker for 23 years in positions that include the service champion for installation status report; manager of the recreation center, youth services, and sports, fitness and aquatics; and chief of the community recreation division of DFMWR," said Timothy Laster, DFMWR director.
Under Jackson's leadership, Fort Rucker programs, facilities and services have been enhanced and expanded, according to Laster.
"Under his leadership as the Fort Rucker community recreation officer, new facilities have been built; existing facilities have seen major renovations, and other facilities have been upgraded and expanded," he said.
Some of these accomplishments include the construction of the Fortenberry-Colton Fitness Facility, SPLASH! aquatic facility, and the youth football, baseball and batting cage complex, and outdoor recreation service center; the renovations and expansions of the Fort Rucker Fitness Facility, leisure travel office, riding stables, Center Library, outdoor pools and swimming areas, campgrounds, cabins, park areas, recreation lodging, biking and hiking trails; and the establishment of a marina operation, the automatic car wash system and paint booth facility at the automotive skills center.
Jackson has been instrumental in the effective implementation of key Soldier and community recreation initiatives and processes within the Atlantic Region, said Laster.
"Under Ken's leadership as the CRO, [our] recreation programs received 71 Army and region awards," he said.
Some of the other programs and events that Jackson helped implement and establish at Fort Rucker are the Warrior Adventure Quest support for a unit at Eglin Air Force Base, an arts and crafts expo, an outdoor sports expo, the Independence Day Freedom Fest, the annual Lake Fest, Thunder on Tholocco and the Army Strong Triathlon.
"[Jackson] was a passionate professional who willingly put the needs of Soldiers and Families ahead of his own interests. He was a tireless advocate for their needs and for recreation as a profession," said Laster.
Jackson retired last April but said that retirement is not much different than working.
"If you really, truly believe in what you do and know that your work has a positive effect on people, it's hard to let it go and say, 'OK, I am retired now. It's time for young blood to take over the program.'"
Jackson's motivation through so many years of dedicated service was his firm belief in service to Soldiers and Families that call Fort Rucker home.
"It's always been a desire to do whatever I possibly could to improve the morale of troops or make a difference in people's lives," he said.
Jackson was kept in the dark when it came to the award and was taken completely by surprise when he arrived at the award ceremony and was told it was for him.
"I was in total awe. I was asked just to attend an award ceremony, but when I was told to sit in the front row with my Family, that was the moment when I realized that something was up.
"When I saw the program and realized what was going on, I started to tremble and get nervous because of who was going to be in attendance and what I had achieved," he said.
Jackson thanked God for the award, but said that he couldn't have earned it without the DFMWR team.
"This award represents the leaders, the managers, all of the staff working in all branches of community recreation. Everyone works so hard in making sure that everything is as perfect and successful as possible. This award was presented to me, but it was presented on their behalf and efforts to excel and provide the very best to Soldiers," he said.
Jackson said the award represents many years of continuous service and loyalty to the Soldiers, Army and Families.
"I still look at it at times and think, 'Oh my god. I can't believe that the leaders that I have served with thought of me for this award,'" he said.
"Through his applied vision, tenacity and exemplary efforts, [Jackson] demonstrated his dedication to Soldiers and their Families every day. He was never satisfied with the status quo and constantly sought new methods to enhance support for all those we serve," said Tindoll.
Jackson plans to continue to volunteer at DFMWR events and provide support.