FORT HOOD, Texas - The sound of laughter and smell of food filled the Grande Ball Room at Club Hood May 13, as members of the Fort Hood community took time to bestow honor on some of their own during the Hood Heroes luncheon.
According to the Hood Heroes website, III Corps Commanding General’s quarterly Hood Heroes Award program was established in 1999 by Lt. Gen. Leon J. Laporte.
“This is a venue that is used to provide and present awards to people who do great things such as volunteer services in the community here at Fort Hood,” Roderick Marshall, event coordinator, said.
In his speech, Col. Matthew Elledge, Fort Hood garrison commander and keynote speaker, defined a volunteer as one who gives of themselves for the betterment of others to accomplish a task.
“There are nine different categories, from customer service to community support to Fort Hood, as well as environmental stewardship and blood donor awards,” Marshall said.
Sgt. Austin Lumpkin, a combat engineer with the 36th Engineer Brigade, received the Military Volunteer of the Quarter Award.
“I got back from deployment in January, and while on block leave used most of my deployment money to purchase more than 200 bags of hygiene products for both males and females and handed them out in my hometown,” he said.
Lumpkin joined the Army in 2007 at the age of 20 with a desire to see something new and travel, but he’s not quite sure why he decided to give back.
“I just woke up with the idea one day in Afghanistan,” Lumpkin said. “I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas, but (I thought) if I was going to blow money, might as well do it on something that’s worth it.”
Although Lumpkin is glad to receive the award, he wasn’t expecting it.
“I really didn’t want any publicity or anything on it because it’s not something I wanted to brag about,” he said.
“It feels great to get this award,” Lumpkin said. “It’s an honor.”
Douglas McKinney, a firefighter with the Kempner Volunteer Fire Department, in Kempner, received the Community Support to Fort Hood award.
“During the recent shooting, I went and picked up the son of a dual military couple, who were on lock down, from school and made sure he was OK,” McKinney said.
A retired military police officer, McKinney said he understands the stresses of family life especially in an emergency situation, but also said that he doesn’t believe he deserved the award.
“It feels really good to receive the award, but I just did what anybody else would have done,” he said.
As the ceremony ended, handshakes crossed tables and looks of pride and accomplishment filled the faces of all who attended.
“There’s nothing like the satisfaction of looking at these people’s faces and seeing how proud they are when they are presented these awards from our commanding general,” Marshall said.