By Pfc. Jared S. Eastman, 1HBCT Public AffairsJune 18, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. Although most volunteers are more willing to remain unnoticed than a Soldier during a barracks inspection, the 3rd Infantry Division held an award ceremony/picnic for the unsung heroes in the division at Cottrell Field, June 11.
"Once a year, we take the time to honor the volunteers in 3rd Infantry Division and it has to be a public recognition because nothing else will do," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commander.
"We have well over 1,200 awards to pass out today, and it's a great turn out. Today, we have over 1,500 volunteers here; there are so many humble volunteers that never get recognized. I think it's important for leaders on all levels to step in front of the crowd and bring these wonderful folks forward, who give up so much of their free time."
The Volunteer Appreciation Picnic had more than 1,500 people in attendance, with 1,200 awards being passed out. There were three types of awards given out, based on various criteria.
"We have Star of the Marne, which is for both volunteer hours and a commander's call on effort," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. "We have Presidential Service Awards, which are outside of the division that meet a certain criteria. Then, at the top of the heap is the Marne Spirit Award, which is my personal award. They bubble up from the brigades' commanders and sergeants major."
Even though the modest volunteers didn't want a big ceremony, most were grateful for the recognition.
"I came here while my husband was deployed and was almost immediately a member of the Family Readiness Group team," said Melanie Wilhite, 1-64 Armor FRG Leader and Marne Spirit Award recipient, "It's nice to know that people notice volunteers because most of the time, I feel unnoticed."