By Kaytrina Curtis, Hunter Army Airfield Public AffairsJune 12, 2009
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Rain showers did not keep Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield leaders from acknowledging more than 900 volunteers during a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, June 4. Inclement weather forced organizers to move the event from the Squires Sports Complex to the Hunter Club.
During the opening ceremony, Hunter Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar thanked the many volunteers for their kindness and called their selfless service integral to the Hunter Community.
"These volunteers have made a significant difference daily in our clinics, Family readiness groups, youth sports programs, chapel, Army Community Services, schools, deployments and reunions to name a few," he said.
Family member Marcia Steele received one of the highest awards of the evening, the Marne Spirit Award.
The award was given for the first time to four volunteers at the ceremony. The medal is given to those who had an extraordinary impact, not only on their organization, but the Hunter community as a whole.
A special coin and pin was awarded to the top-four volunteers in the Hunter community.
Steele attended her nephew's high school graduation in Kentucky and left Louisville at 5:12 a.m. to get to the ceremony on time.
"I pulled in the gate (Hunter's front gate) at 3:38 (p.m.)," said Steele. "What makes the award special is that it is the top division award that (a volunteer) can receive."
Humbled by the experience, Steele said someone thinks that she is special, but she doesn't think that way of herself. She also remarked that in the past six years of her Family living in the Hunter community, she has spent that time supporting the Soldiers and their Families.
Third Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, disagrees with the way Steele views herself and stated that Steele is "just an amazing woman." He added that no matter what, Steele fights through pain and adversity, and she always has a smile on her face.
"She has a sixth sense of where there is a need," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo. "That's where you will find her."
Major General Cucolo said the Army is not resourced to do everything that should be done and volunteers are like combat multipliers.
He also expressed his gratitude for the many countless, unpaid hours, volunteers unselfishly provide for the community.
"They do not want this recognition," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. "We almost have to herd them in here and present them their awards, because part of their sincerity and selflessness is their humility."
Today, a similar volunteer recognition ceremony will be held on Fort Stewart to recognize more than 2,000 servicemembers and volunteers.