By Suet Lee-Growney, Fort Riley Public AffairsFebruary 9, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Forty seven volunteers were recognized and awarded for their contribution to the Fort Riley community during the Volunteer of the Quarter ceremony Jan. 30 at Riley's Conference Center.
During the event, Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, said giving the opening remarks for the ceremony was easy because it came from his heart.
"This is one of my favorite things to do," Martin said. "This gives me energy. If I had a really bad day preceding this, I go home feeling really good … As the senior commander and a 'Big Red One' Soldier, I'm honored to be standing here again this quarter to help recognize those people (volunteers)."
Present at the event were family and friends of the volunteers and their command teams of each brigade. Martin commended the amount of people who showed up to support the volunteers.
"I know we got more people in here than we have awardees, which is always a good thing, too, because folks took time out of their day to be here to recognize those (volunteers)," he said. "So I thank you personally for coming if you're not someone to be recognized."
Among all the award recipients who were recognized, Sgt. 1st Class Billy Thornton, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his exemplary service for more than 1,500 volunteer hours in the past three years, said Clint Strutt, emcee for the ceremony and Financial Readiness Program manager for Army Community Service. Thornton received the MOVSM medal along with a bronze star attachment.
"His coordination with the (Congressional) Medal of Honor Society and the Cavalry Museum resulted in appropriate recognition for fallen Soldiers for 1-16th Infantry Battalion," Strutt said during the ceremony. "Thornton exemplifies the Army values by striving for excellency in everything that he does."
Thornton is a craftsman and gives his time making going-away gifts for people from his peers to Soldiers in leadership positions.
"I've done everything from making going away gifts for commanders all the way up to the 1st (Inf. Div.) commander and the 1st (Inf. Div.) sergeant major," Thornton said.
In addition to creating going-away gifts, he is also a doer. When he sees an opportunity to do something above and beyond his responsibility, he does it. Thornton said he dedicates his time in many ways from making meals for others during the holidays to repainting something in need of a paint job.
"Basically if I see something, I'll fix it," he said. "Every unit I've been with, I feel like I've touched them in some way … I'm a doer, I see things outside the box."
His volunteerism began long before the 1,500 hours he was recognized for. He said for his past nine years at Fort Riley, he chose to go unnoticed in his community service. However, his current company commander, Capt. Mark Gaudet told him he needed to be recognized.
"This is where I had an officer step up and said 'you know what, you need to be recognized for what you've done,'" Thornton said.
Thornton said finding inspiration to put others above oneself is simple.
"Find something that you love because we all have something that we love," he said. "And connect it with the military and make a link between that … Therefore you will not only benefit others around you and you can possibly benefit yourself if you choose to do so."