By J.D. LeipoldOctober 12, 2012
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2012) -- Five civilians were honored for their service to Soldiers and their families at a special Twilight Tattoo hosted by the Army chief of staff, Oct. 11, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.
"As we stand here on this beautiful hilltop overlooking Washington, D.C., it is an honor for me tonight that we have five individuals who have gone above and beyond in the selfless support of our troops," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno.
"All of these individuals have dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort to support, enable and empower our Soldiers and Army families and tonight I'm not only proud to acknowledge all the support they've given to our Army, but to tell them how grateful for what they do as role models and as selfless leaders willing to give back," Odierno continued, next highlighting the contributions of each before presenting them with framed citations and medals.
Bonnie Carroll founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, following the accidental death of her husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, in an Army C-12 plane crash in 1992.
"TAPS has served as a means to offer emotional support to anyone suffering the loss of a military loved one," Odierno said, explaining that she built a network of more than 50,000 volunteers that provide much-needed solace and comfort to many through the grieving process. "Bonny and her foundation have opened their arms to embracing the TAPS motto to 'remember the love, celebrate the life and share the journey.'"
Mike Conklin was next recognized for establishing the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation. He was inspired to create the foundation by the service of his three sons who are all Army Rangers. Conklin's foundation provides life-changing scholarships which connect permanently disabled veterans with caring communities of volunteers who assist them with housing, transportation, employment and self-sufficiency resources.
"To date, 114 scholarships have been awarded and 42 sentinels have graduated from this program with a means to forge a new path in life," said Odierno. "Mike and his team use every available resource, every volunteer and every donated dollar to make dreams come true. One sentinel is truly one victory at a time."
Odierno next gave accolades to Steve Dunning whom he said, "is the true military advocate in the entertainment industry and has served as a catalyst in Hollywood to provide a more nuanced view of what it means to be a veteran in America."
A writer, producer and director, Dunning is instrumental in the NBC Universal Veterans Network and Got Your 6 Campaign, platforms which seek to bridge the civilian/military divide by informing Americans about military and veteran culture with the help of celebrities like Tom Hanks and Michael Douglas.
"I had the chance to see Steve in action when I visited NBC studios during the Army birthday week in June," said Odierno. "He puts forth tremendous energy and passion for these causes and the results of his efforts have led to hiring hundreds of veterans. There's no doubt in my mind that Steve has 'Got Your 6.'"
Former pro golfer David Feherty was recognized by the chief for his selflessness in co-creating Feherty's Troops First Foundation, an organization that hosts what he called Improvised Explosive Days that bring golf, cycling and hunting to wounded warriors.
"These events are specially designed for wounded warriors, to work with them on relationship-building and reintegration and to focus on the way ahead to a brighter future," Odierno said. "He was so motivated by the desire to call service members, 'my Soldiers, my Marines, my Sailors, my Airmen, my Coast Guardsmen,' that he became a U.S. citizen."
Feherty had made three trips to Iraq and one to Afghanistan to show his support for what he calls "the true heroes of this great nation." What Feherty gives came full circle, said Odierno, when a group of wounded Soldiers he had assisted presented Feherty with a folded American flag that had flown over a base in Iraq that he had visited.
"I'm sure all the wounded warriors David has helped would call him 'my hero,'" said the chief.
Feherty later said he didn't honestly know why he was receiving the recognition from the chief.
"I know what I do for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, but they do so much more for me," he said. "I can call them mine, that they're friends of mine is the greatest honor in my life."
Edmund C. Tramont, a retired Army colonel and doctor, was lauded by the chief for his work over 44 years in the development of vaccines to protect troops from meningitis, AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. Today, Tramont continues his research work as the director, Division of AIDS, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
"Overseeing a $444 million global research program involving hundreds of clinical trials to support our warfighters, Dr. Tramont has become an iconic public health hero for military medical research," said Odierno.
Following presentation of the Outstanding Civilian Service Awards, the pageantry of the final tattoo of the year was performed by the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Drill Team. The evening was capped with the firing of cannon by the Presidential Salute Battery.