By Barbara Gersna
1st Theater Sustainment Command
Maj. Gen. John P. Sullivan, commanding general, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, and his wife, Jennifer Sullivan, presented volunteer awards to Soldiers, civilians and military spouses of the 1st TSC during a ceremony held Friday, May 14, outside the command headquarters here. A Meritorious Unit Commendation was also awarded to the 1st TSC to open the ceremony.
Eight Soldiers and seven civilians were acknowledged for volunteering on post and in the community. The programs and projects where people volunteered range from mentoring with Big Brothers and Big Sisters to volunteering with the American Red Cross to doing graphic designing.
Volunteers executed highway clean-up projects, served as youth camp counselors and coaches, helped with Feeding America and the Elizabethtown Food Bank. Helping Hands, Santa’s Workshop, Wreaths Across America, Girl and Boy Scouts of America are among the other organizations where 1st TSC volunteers shared their time.
“Over the past 12 months, our volunteers have accumulated nearly 8,560 volunteer hours,” said Lt. Col. Brian Kibitlewski, commander, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC. “Some volunteers donated 200 or more hours of their time to their Soldier and Family Readiness Group.”
Additionally, some volunteers helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity, helped with parent teacher organizations, assisted with local ministries, and even served as legal child-appointed advocates.
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals were presented to the following 1st TSC Soldiers: Master Sgt. Scott Mitsuno, senior airdrop operations NCO, Sgt. 1st Class Helena Rochester, deployment cell NCOIC; Staff Sgt. Lana Wheeler, transportation operations branch movements NCO; Staff Sgt. Nahjier Williams, public affairs NCO; and those unable to attend who were also awarded were Capt. Keita Rodgers, former commander, special troops battalion headquarters and headquarters company and Sgt. 1st Class Carol Newland.
Sullivan, his wife Jennifer, as well as Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Perry, III, command sergeant major, 1st TSC, presented each recipient with their award.
Public Service Commendation Medals were awarded to Lori Rozhon, accepted by her husband, Lt. Col. Chris Rozhon, assistant chief of staff, G4, 1st TSC, and Kristen Small.
Patriotic Public Service Medals were presented to Nilsa Rodriguez and Nancy Walton.
Certificates of Appreciation were given to both Soldiers, including Sgt. 1st Class Kerrilee Case, special purpose equipment sergeant, 1st TSC; Sgt. Willie Hanton, religious affairs specialist, 1st TSC; and civilians, including Beatriz Medina, Emily Shamsi and Marie Torres, for their efforts.
“These volunteers saved the government an estimated $244,303,” Kibitlewski said. He also shared that it would be difficult to ensure our Soldier readiness without the men and women who make up our volunteer force.
“This is why we say thank you today,” Kibitlewski added.
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service awardee, Staff Sgt. Lana Wheeler volunteered her time gathering donations and delivering them to members of the Navajo Nation. “I was stationed at Fort Bliss when the COVID-19 Virus hit the Navajo people hard, killing about 2,000 members,” she recalled. “I collected plastic bins full of cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and canned food.”
This volunteer mission was special to Wheeler because she is a Navajo Native American.
Patriotic Public Service Medal awardee, Nancy Walton said, “I’ve been volunteering with Girls Scouts from the time my daughter started as a Daisy and is now a senior in high school.” She said that volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and make friends.
Kristen Small, co-leader of the Soldier and Family Readiness Group, 1st TSC, said, “I have enjoyed being able to spend so much more time volunteering here.” She said that her husband is very supportive of her volunteering.
1st TSC also received a Meritorious Unit Commendation at the ceremony for exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service during the period of November 30, 2016 to July 2, 2019. The unit’s Soldiers earned the award for service in the U.S. Central Command area of operations in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Inherent Resolve, Spartan Shield, and Resolute Support, during that timeframe.
Sullivan explained that the MUC is a retroactive award. He said, “It is our obligation to continue to uphold the reputation. It’s a shared responsibility of those who served before and those serving now,” with the 1st TSC.
As the MUC was added to the 1st TSC colors, Soldiers and civilians joined together to represent the unit. Karen Hughes represented the civilian employees. Spc. James Spoerl represented the junior enlisted Soldiers and Staff Sgt. Nahjier Williams represented the noncommissioned officers. Lt. Col. Michael Huber stood for the officers and Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Jasinski represented the Warrant Officer Corps.
The unit’s mascot, Sgt. Blackjack also made an appearance to pose with the awardees and the many families who attended the ceremony.
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION