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Seven Top Reserve Component Family Readiness Programs Honored

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2004 – The top family readiness programs in the reserve component for 2003 were honored today during the Defense Department's fourth annual awards ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

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Coast Guard Rear Adm. Robert J. Papp, left, director of reserve and training, chats with Petty Officer 1st Class James Knapp and his wife, Sharon Knapp, after the DoD Reserve Family Readiness Awards ceremony at the Pentagon. Petty Officer Knapp accepted the award for his unit, the Port Security Unit 311 from San Pedro, Calif. Photo by Rudi Williams

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Master of ceremonies Marine Lt. Col. Ian Ferguson, of DoD's reserve affairs office, emphasized that family readiness is a key component of mission readiness. "Robust family readiness programs have greatly enhanced the deployablity of the Guard and Reserve," he noted.

"One need only look at the last few years to recognize the critical role the reserve components play in supporting our nation. Improved family readiness programs and command emphasis have enabled Guard and Reserve families to be prepared when the service member is called to active duty."

Ferguson said the DoD Reserve Family Readiness Awards were established in 2000 "to recognize the top unit in each reserve component that demonstrates outstanding family readiness while maintaining superior mission readiness."

He pointed out the award winners reflect the best of many noteworthy units, and each reserve component carefully selected its winner from among a large nominee pool. The nominees were sent to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs for final approval.

Each winning unit was presented an engraved commemorative plaque and a signed certificate of appreciation. Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, presented the awards.

This year's winners were:

  • The Army National Guard's 111th Engineer Group from the West Virginia Army National Guard. The 111th's Family Readiness Group was honored for going beyond the 'call of duty' in supporting units throughout the mountain state. The unit was also cited for helping three other units create and certify their own family readiness groups.

    Daphne Rideout, president of the 111th Family Readiness Group; and unit chaplain Maj. Bruce Reed accepted the award. Joining the recipients and Hall on the stage for the presentation were Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, director of the Army National Guard; and Maj. Gen. Allen E. Tackett, the adjutant general of West Virginia.

  • The Army Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 289th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 75th Infantry Division, from Beaumont, Texas. Noting that the battalion was mobilized to far-flung locations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Ferguson said "their success in mission accomplishment is directly related to the strong and effective contributions of the family readiness group. This is exemplified by the battalion having a 100 percent rate of executable family care plans and all family members having ID cards."

    Lt. Col. Dale Egger, the battalion commander, accepted the award. Hall was joined by Brig. Gen. Gary Profit, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, for the presentation.

  • Naval Reserve Patrol Squadron 62 from Jacksonville, Fla. The squadron's philosophy of "'Mission First, Sailors Always,' is embedded in the unit family readiness program," Ferguson told the audience. "The squadron's ability to export readiness briefs has been extremely successful in reaching isolated families."

    After Vice Adm. John G. Cotton, chief of the Naval Reserve, joined Hall on the stage, Ferguson called squadron commander, Cmdr. T.D. Smyers, and ombudsman Kelli Mulford to the sage for the presentation.

  • Marine Corps Reserve 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, from Portland, Ore. "The battalion's family readiness team is very robust and includes numerous key volunteers, family readiness officers, the peacetime-wartime support team and the battalion chaplain," Ferguson noted. "The battalion's key volunteer network supports subordinate units throughout the country. Additionally, all battalion family readiness teams are trained and prepared to support any military family, regardless of service or component."

    Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, commander, Marine Forces Reserve, was called to the stage before Hall presented the award to the battalion command, Lt. Col. Roger R. Machut.

  • The Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Ferguson said the wing prides itself on its family readiness network, which has been instrumental in supporting short-notice deployments for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

    "For example," he said, "the 111th has developed multiple communication links, which keep members and families connected via multiple means during deployments."

    The award was accepted by the wing commander, Col. Steven M. Sischo, and his wife, Susan Sischo, president of the family readiness group. Looking on was Blum and Brig. Gen. Anthony Haynes, chief operating officer of the Air National Guard.

  • The Air Force Reserve's 94th Airlift Wing from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. The 94th's Family Support Center was recognized for networking with other community and military providers to ensure the best support for members and their families, Ferguson noted. "Emphasis on family readiness is found at all levels of leadership and the implementation of the family support checklist helps leaders accomplish their mission," he said.

    The award was accepted by wing commander Brig. Gen. William Kane; Ealy Ritter, family support director; and family support technicians Tech. Sgts. Sylvia Knight and Dianne Yearby. Brig. Gen. William Rajezak, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, joined Hall on the stage for the presentation.

  • The Coast Guard Reserve's Port Security Unit 311 from San Pedro, Calif. The unit "has established an aggressive program to educate unit family members regarding the unit mission, their rights, benefits, privileges and responsibilities," Ferguson said. "This has been impressively accomplished through a variety of initiatives, such as unit publications and their own Web page."

Rear Adm. Robert J. Papp, the Coast Guard's director of reserve and training, joined Hall for the award presentation to Petty Officer 1st Class James Knapp, the unit ombudsman.

Knapp said the award was really won by "family members helping support themselves." That included "the command support I've received in implementing things like making sure that all family members have ID cards that allow them the access to facilities and support from the military while their people are overseas," he said.

Noting that the Coast Guard is much small than the other military services, Knapp said 40 Coast Guardsmen were deployed to Bahrain in 2002. "They were in Bahrain doing training for harbor safety and security for U.S. naval vessels as part of the response to 9/11," he said.

"We had 40 members overseas, which meant that I was supporting 40 family units, because I am the family readiness unit. Rather than having a team or several different groups or units involved, I rely on the other military services and the readiness unit to help me provide support."

Sgt. 1st Class Mary Jackson, family support liaison for the 3rd Battalion, 289th Infantry Regiment, expressed the sentiments of all award winners. She said the main thing is to get people who are willing to volunteer to help others.

The award "is a wonderful accomplishment), not for the unit, but for all the volunteers who have put forth so much effort to help others," she said. "The award is for those who have stepped up and said, 'What can I do.'"

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, chats with Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Mary Jackson, who accepted the family readiness award for the 3rd Battalion, 289th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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