By Erin Murray, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 10, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 10, 2011) -- Soldiers and their Families enjoyed the fall weather with warm chili and an even warmer thanks to Military Families at Festival Fields Nov. 5 at the 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment and Army Aviation Association of America Chili Cook-off and 5K.
Along with the cook-off and run, several guests were recognized as outstanding members of the community at the Salute to Military Families, hosted by Army Community Services.
"The day was a great success, raising more money this year for the AAAA scholarship fund than in any years past," said Capt. Smith Griggs, coordinator of the event.
The morning began with 20 teams preparing their signature chili dishes while over 75 participants competed in a 5K race. As the race concluded, many of the chili cook-off teams were ready to serve the crowds and compete for best in show and best tasting awards. Among the many decorated booths for the teams were a drive through, a chili pot warmed by motorcycle engines and the "Knights of the Round Chili Pot" castle, which ended up winning best in show.
"There's a wide variety of creative ideas, characters and themes. I'm really impressed with it," said Nancy Turner, who was at the cook-off while visiting Family in the area.
Warrant Officer Brian Williamson was glad to be able to bring his Family and friends to the event, where he ran the 5K and tasted many of the chili offerings, explaining that his favorite was the 6th Military Detachment's "Fire Doggs" chili, which won the best tasting award for the day.
"[My Family] came out from Texas for Family day, but they also got to enjoy this event. It was pretty great and Family-oriented," he said, adding that he felt that the event was a great representation of Fort Rucker's commitment to Family and community.
As the chili was sampled, ACS honored several outstanding community members, including 38 primary and elementary schoolers who participated in art and essay contests about military Families. Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. James A. Muskopf, garrison commander, were in attendance to recognize the special guests.
"I constantly thank our Soldiers, but sometimes our Families don't get the credit they deserve. We want to say 'thank you' to you, because you really are our strength. As the chief of staff of the Army says, 'the strength of our nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldier. The strength of our Soldier is our Family,'" said Crutchfield.
Three Families were recognized at the event for "contributing their time and resources to improve the quality of life on Fort Rucker."
Cindy Beat and her son, Matthew, were recognized for their involvement with Catholic chapel services where their entire Family serve as ushers, altar servers, and council members and also participate in the youth ministry. Father Eric Beat serves as Scoutmaster and den leader and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Joe Morano, his wife, Jodie, and their children, Julia and Joey, were recognized for their involvement in the Protestant chapel services as mentors, chaperones, drivers and participants in chapel activities.
Moses Toyakuk, his wife, Hilary, and their children Thomas, Adrian, Ethan, Anna, Julia, Paul and Marissa, were also recognized for their support of the Protestant chapel, including their involvement in chapel plays and vacation Bible school.
"We've recognized some very outstanding folks here today, our special students and Families of excellence all of whom have contributed a significant amount of time and energy in support of on and off-post activities and organizations. They clearly show us what it means to live the Army values," said Mike Kozlowski, presenter for the Salute to Military Families.