By Amber Avalona-Butler/ParaglideAugust 6, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "Who can we send and who will go for us'" Major General Rodney Anderson, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, paraphrased a familiar quote when he spoke to 27 Iron Mike Award recipients recently.
The ceremony gathered volunteers, Family and friends in the Hodge Room of the Fort Bragg Club.
According to Anderson, the brave men and women who volunteer to serve our country in uniform are those who answer the call for courage. "But there's also a special group, and that includes those Family members and friends who unselfishly support us," said Anderson.
He recognized the volunteers for their efforts, which went above and beyond the call of duty, adding, "Thank you, for your support of your loved ones, but also your support of our Army way of life."
Volunteers help in a number of installation areas, including Family readiness groups, the American Red Cross at Womack Army Medical Center, Army Community Service, the thrift shop and Smith Lake Riding Stables and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum located in downtown Fayetteville.
Quarterly, departments submit nominations to the volunteer service office, which gathers a review committee to select those chosen for the Iron Mike Award. The installation is fortunate to list the help of many Family and friends, but the review committee looks for those who consistently exceed expectations.
"A lot of volunteers say they don't do it for the recognition," said Alice Stephens, ACS Installation Volunteer Services, who gave the ceremony's opening remarks. She explained that an Iron Mike Award is an enduring "thank you" to volunteers who can be proud of their exemplary service.
"This is an elite ceremony. They go above and beyond their job description," said Stephens, referring to the women and men who fill needs within the Army Family - services like visiting wounded Soldiers in another state, child care, cooking for Families with an ill parent and caring for the sick ... earning themselves the nickname Army Angels.
Since 2001, the Iron Mike awards have honored Fort Bragg volunteers. The awards, divided into four categories, feature an Iron Mike lapel pin for 300 or more hours of service, an Iron Mike Bronze Star (500 hours), an Iron Mike Silver Star (750 hours) and an Iron Mike Gold Star (1,000 hours, not awarded in last week's ceremony).
Frieda Hawks, one of two Iron Mike Silver Star recipients, said she first noticed the Red Cross volunteers when her husband was admitted to Womack Army Medical Center.
Hawks said she wanted a way to give back, so she started volunteering in the emergency room handling paperwork. That was 17 years ago, and today she still commits to helping WAMC patients by giving stuffed animals to the mother-baby ward and the pediatric ward. What is the key to Hawks' longstanding partnership with the Red Cross'
"For me it's the satisfaction of giving of yourself and meeting people," she said in true Iron Mike style.