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Extraordinary Service Gets World Class Award

American Forces Press Service

FORT LEE, VA., Dec. 19, 1997 – They saved a baby from choking to death, personally delivered a bag of groceries left at a store, and returned lost wallets with large sums of cash. These deeds not only got the attention of commissary customers, but also received special "world class" recognition.

Commissary employees Terry Zook, Vermell Jones, Claudia Tellone, Jim Clark and Estela Bennett received the Defense Commissary Agency's World Class Customer Service awards from Director Richard E. Beale Jr. during ceremonies here Dec. 9 at agency headquarters.

Zook, a store customer service manager at Bangor Naval Submarine Base, Wash., saved a baby's life on a busy payday in May. Zook noticed the silent child was limp and turning purple while the mother stood in line to check out. Zook saw the child's abnormal color, quickly took it from the mother's arms and turned the child's head so the baby could release vomit. The mother, unaware her baby had been dying in her arms, was extremely grateful to Zook, who went about her duties guiding customers to checkout stands as if what she had done was simply routine.

Jones, a support clerk at Mayport Naval Station, Fla., made a customer very happy when she found his wallet containing $3,000 cash. The customer had been preparing to leave Mayport for his new duty station in California when the incident occurred.

Tellone, a cashier at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., recovered a lost bank envelope containing $120 in March. A customer had left the envelope on the cashier's counter and didn't discover the loss until the next day. Tellone had turned it into the manager.

"I was very grateful to Claudia. She is indeed a worthy employee, and is to be commended for her honorable service," wrote customer Lory Smith.

Bennett, a cashier at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, discovered a wallet containing $1,600 at her register in April. She turned in the wallet to a supervisor, who called the owner. The customer offered Bennett a $100 reward, but she politely declined.

"You are fortunate to be in charge of trustworthy personnel who bring credit and recognition to the Base," customer Myron Sees wrote.

Clark, commissary officer at Fort Meade, Md., literally went the extra mile in customer service in November 1996. On his way home, Clark delivered a bag of groceries left behind at the register counter earlier that day.

Clark and Zook's awards were in a category created this year to recognize managers and supervisors whose service spawns customer compliments to DeCA officials, said Steve Randol, head of DeCA's Quality Improvement Division.

"The prime strategic goal of DeCA is to satisfy the customer," Randol said. "We have many outstanding employees who have gone beyond the daily standards of excellence in serving our customers."

The presentation highlighted the annual meeting of DeCA's Quality Council, which sets goals in line with the agency's vision statement: "Dedicated professionals providing the marketplace of choice."

It's the second year the awards have been given. They are primarily based on individual incidents of service and determined by a review of letters and notes from customers.

(From a DeCA release)

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