AUSA Announces National Award Winners

AUSA Announces National Award Winners

Photo by: U.S. Army

The Association of the U.S. Army has announced the recipients of its 2019 National Awards, which will be presented in October during AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

General Creighton W. Abrams Medal

The General Creighton W. Abrams Medal for exceptional service to the U.S. Army will be awarded to Elaine Rogers, the president and CEO of the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore. Rogers has worked for the USO since 1976 and has been president of USO-Metro for 42 years.

“Those of us who know Elaine know that she is as passionate today about giving back to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom as she was when she began her work at the USO of Metropolitan Washington,” said Karen Lowe of AUSA’s George Washington Chapter. “She has nonstop energy and never accepts no for an answer.”

USO-Metro is the USO’s largest global affiliate with 10 locations plus a mobile facility serving a region with more than 300,000 troops and family members.

“Under Ms. Rogers’ leadership, USO-Metro has increased the scope and depth of the programs it provides to active-duty military and their families, as well as wounded, ill and injured service members and their caregivers,” Lowe said.

During her tenure, annual donations grew from $100,000 to more than $14 million in cash, goods and services, and her roster of volunteers grew from 50 people to more than 1,200.

Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Medal

The Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Medal for contributions to the Army Noncommissioned Officer Corps will be awarded to retired Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Minosky of AUSA’s Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter.

After 25 years of service, Minosky continues to serve through civic duties, including volunteering and working for local government, nonprofit and civic organizations in which he has formed lasting friendships and partnerships in the military and local communities. 

“Simply put, Command Sgt. Maj. Minosky is the hub through which nearly all support to veterans and their families in the Fort Hood area flows. He connects people and organizations, enables their impact, and his presence affords legitimacy to whatever he supports,” said Capt. J. Patrick Robinson, who described Minosky as his mentor. “From assisting with transitions from active duty, to helping grieving families with the death of a family member, Command Sgt. Maj. Minosky is there lending an ear and hand and a shoulder to help folks in times of need.”

For two decades, Minosky has been a business development specialist with Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, which helps find jobs for veterans. He is a volunteer with the Fort Hood Veterans Treatment Court, a mentoring program. On behalf of AUSA, he conducts newcomers’ briefings, developed an adopt-a-unit program and has increased community partnerships.

“His selflessness and commitment to the military community epitomize what it means to be an NCO and Soldier for Life. He uses every opportunity available to him to advocate for soldiers, veterans and their families,” Robinson said.

Major General Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal

The Major General Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal for outstanding contributions to the Association of the U.S. Army will be awarded to retired Col. Hugh “Sandy” McLeod, a Life Member of the association and former Second Region president who remains an active member of the Arsenal of Democracy Chapter.

Widely respected throughout the association, McLeod has been a leader in the growing and adapting AUSA. He was among the first to appoint chapter vice presidents for young professional programs while emphasizing the importance of education and professional development programs. Under his leadership, underperforming and dormant chapters grew.

McLeod was co-leader of AUSA’s Chapter Excellence Project, a major internal study that refocused the association by looking at the characteristics of the most successful chapters. This led to many changes in operations, communications and awards.

His steady, energetic and thoughtful leadership has been a model for others.

Joseph P. Cribbins Medal

The Joseph P. Cribbins Medal for exemplary service by a Department of the Army civilian will be awarded to Craig Hannum of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

A retired military policeman, Hannum holds a multidimensional job as suicide prevention, intervention and mitigation training and response, and employee assistance program coordinator at Fort Huachuca, a demanding job requiring a well-organized, efficient and proactive manager.

“Craig has been an invaluable asset for the garrison and installation leadership by providing sound guidance and informational briefings to the command teams,” said Jennifer Smith, Fort Huachuca-Sierra Vista Chapter president. “He possesses an extraordinary understanding of each phase of each project he oversees while staying current with innovative methods to improve his programs. His hard work has resulted in a reduced number of suicide attempts and a higher rate of awareness.”

One of his greatest achievements is “his constant ability to provide levelheaded, calm and effective decision-making under pressure while defusing active suicide attempts of all ages, to include children as young as 6 years old,” Smith said. “Craig has partnered with the local community to reduce suicide by teaching local schools about suicide prevention to educators that better enables them to recognize signs of suicidal thoughts.”

Michael J. Barber, Fort Huachuca’s human resources director, said Hannum “is always willing to offer his assistance and has an excellent rapport with the many patrons served by our Soldier and Family Readiness Center.”

John W. Dixon Award

The John W. Dixon Award for outstanding contributions to national defense from industry will be awarded to Peter Martin, president and CEO of Ameripack Inc., a Robbinsville, New Jersey-based company celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Ameripack, a supplier of protective packaging for military equipment, is a community partner of AUSA’s Monmouth Chapter and a supporter of the MG Harry Greene, Aberdeen Chapter. Martin started the company after 13 years of teaching health and physical education. 

Kentucky State Sen. Jimmy Higdon said, “As a result of Ameripack’s extensive work with our military, it has always been its mission to supply our warfighters with the best protection for their equipment while they are in theater.” The business’ philosophy is protecting troops when they are forward and taking care of them when they return, Higdon said, which for Martin means contributing to foundations supporting warriors and families such as Fisher House and other nonprofits. 

Retired Gen. Thomas Schwartz, the former U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea commander, endorsed the award, calling Martin “a patriot beyond compare. He is a man of character and impeccable integrity,” Schwarz wrote. “I know of no man more deserving of this recognition.”

Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain Medal

The Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain Medal, given to a current or former member of the National Guard for advancing a seamless and component-integrated Army, will be awarded to retired Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, who previously was the U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard.

With 40 years of military service, Gronski has proven he’s a successful leader in building integrated forces.

“He possesses an unmatched set of experiences involving the integration and employment of units comprised of National Guard, active component and reserve component soldiers,” said David V. Fulton, president of the Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Chapter of AUSA.

In 2000, Gronski was military liaison chief in Lithuania, coordinating combat readiness objectives with U.S. and foreign troops. In 2005, he commanded a National Guard brigade in Ramadi, Iraq, alongside U.S. Marine and Regular Army troops. In 2014, he commanded the 28th Infantry, deploying the division headquarters to France for an exercise and training. As deputy commander for the National Guard, he worked in Europe with all Army components.

“His tireless presence throughout the theater has helped to identify and set the standard for what right looks like,” Fulton said. “Gronski’s persistent communication and outreach has strengthened leader understanding and confidence in the U.S. Army’s ability to field a unified and component-integrated Army.”

Gronski is now a senior mentor for the Army’s Mission Command Training Program.

His “long and exemplary service has paved the way for a stronger and more integrated Army,” Fulton said. “His legacy is one of leading change and enhancing the seamless integration of National Guard units wherever and whenever that integration improves readiness.”

Major General James Earl Rudder Medal

The Major General James Earl Rudder Medal, given to a current or former member of the U.S. Army Reserve for advancing a seamless and component-integrated Army, is awarded to retired Col. Olin Brewster, a U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador since 2006.

Brewster retired after 29 years of combined active and reserve duty that began when he was commissioned in 1966 as part of the corps of cadets at Texas A&M University, where the president was retired Maj. Gen. Rudder, for whom the award is named. 

After retiring in 2006 from civil service, Brewster continued to serve in military-related and civilian programs, including being a charter member and past chairman of the San Antonio Community Action Committee, which assists Army recruiting battalions, and the national nonprofit Our Community Salutes, which supports high school seniors who enlist in the military.

“Olin Finley Brewster has left an enduring imprint on the success of the Army, the Army Reserve, and so many other efforts that have contributed to the success of the U.S. Army within the Fort Sam Houston and Joint Base San Antonio footprint as well as the state of Texas,” said retired Lt. Col. Rich Stinson, president of AUSA’s Alamo Chapter.

AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award

The Volunteer Family of the Year Award for promoting the well-being of soldiers and their family members is presented to the family of Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Dianne Ellwein and retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Frederick Ellwein.

The couple and their three children—Tyler, Kaitlin and Austin—have amassed almost 4,400 hours of volunteer work over the past year in a variety of Scouting, church and civic causes, even though two of the children are now grown, including one who is an Air Force officer stationed in Japan.

They were recently named Family of the Year in Wiesbaden, Germany, where the couple resides.

“The Ellwein family embodies all of the Army’s values but most particularly selfless service, honor and personal courage,” said Fulton, the AUSA Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Chapter president. “They continually build trust and confidence within the community and exemplify the virtue of good citizenship, proving themselves true stewards of the Army profession and a superior family for all Army families to emulate.”

Sgt. Maj. Ellwein is president of U.S. Army Europe’s prestigious Sergeant Morales Club in addition to being a Scout leader, and is active in school-related community organizations. CW4 Ellwein, a disabled veteran and former commander of The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, is a high school jazz band volunteer.

Eighteen-year-old son Austin volunteers in Scouting, church and community activities. Kaitlin, 25, is busy serving as an Air Force intelligence officer but still amassed 100 hours of volunteer work. The Ellweins’ oldest son, 27-year-old Tyler, is a certified trainer and teacher who amassed 1,200 hours of volunteer work.

“The Weisbaden military community takes great pride in the Ellwein family,” Fulton said. “We are better because they are part of the Army family.”

AUSA National Service Award

The Association of the U.S. Army is honored to present its National Service Award to Team Rubicon, a nongovernment organization that puts veterans looking for something meaningful to do to work on disaster response and humanitarian assistance missions.

With its motto “Disasters are our business, veterans are our passion,” the nonprofit has made an international impact by sending training teams of veterans to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises. 

Its first mission came in 2010 with a medical team of veterans responding to an earthquake in Haiti, using a rented truck and donated equipment.

Nine years later, the organization now has more than 100,000 available volunteers and is certified by the World Health Association as having a Type 1 medical emergency team, the first North American nongovernmental organization to receive the designation that shows it can deploy on short notice to provide lifesaving care under austere conditions.

Their model is to help people and help veterans at the same time.

“For many men and women of our armed forces, the desire to serve their country and fellow man does not diminish once they take off the uniform,” they say in advocating that “continued service helps us build stronger communities and supports transitioning veterans.”

Team Rubicon has performed about 200 operations, responding domestically and globally to floods, tsunamis and border conflicts. Operations are not always short-lived. In Houston, Team Rubicon is in the middle of a long-term plan to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which hit in 2017.

In addition to these awards, AUSA previously announced that retired Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 37th Army chief of staff, will receive its highest award for distinguished public service, the George Catlett Marshall Medal.