The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce recognized local active-duty, reserve and civilian personnel for their extraordinary service to the community at its Salute to Military event May 5.
Enlisted Service Person of the Year - Electronics Technician 1st Class Jason Lowman, United States Navy - Petty Officer Jason Lowman, Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit is responsible for the management of all technical and administrative documents and manuals necessary for the safe operation of Moored Training Ship 635, one of the Navy’s four land-based nuclear power training platforms. Petty Officer Lowman also performs the duties of Maintenance Planner for the ship, a position where he schedules all of the ship’s maintenance and repairs. Representing the U.S. Navy in the local community, he personally spearheaded a fundraising enterprise recognized by local television and radio stations that coordinated U.S. Navy volunteers in raising $15,000 in support of local cancer treatment centers. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Jerry Zucker’s Ride for Hope of greater Charleston. He created the 4,000 Miles of Hope program, and raised over $9,000 for its multiple cancer charities. In June 2011, he will embark on a 4,000 mile bike ride across the United States to support and raise awareness for the Miles of Hope program. Additionally, he volunteers for other charities including Camp Happy Days, the Simply Divine Gardens program and Pattinson’s Spin Marathon.
Reservist of the Year - Technical Sergeant Kelly E. Dixon, United States Air Force Reserve -Technical Sergeant Kelly Dixon, 315th Airlift Wing provides customer service, performs personnel activities and functions to support a squadron of 40 reserve members. She creates, maintains and updates personnel records, as well as, conducts in-processing and out-processing duties. As a dedicated volunteer for the “Lunch Buddy” Program at River Oaks Middle School, TSgt Dixon is an exceptional mentor every third Wednesday of the month. Kelly also serves as Assistant Musician for several separate choirs at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. As well, she is an extremely active member of the Military Outreach Ministry at the church. TSgt Dixon collects goods for “care packages,” sends inspirational emails and provides assistance to members of her church (and their families) who are deployed. As the Team Mom for a local youth basketball league, she supports and assists with more than 100 youth from the local area. Kelly also voluntarily prepares food for the “Meals on Wheels” Program and is an avid participant in the March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, which supports research for birth defects/premature births. TSgt. Dixon has been an American Red Cross Blood Donor for the past three years and is very involved in the Parent Teacher Organization at Sedgefield Middle School, where her children attend school.
Outstanding Employee of the Year - Barbara Wiedenhoeft - Barbara S. Wiedenhoeft, 437th Airlift Wing is the administrative professional for the Chief of Maintenance, Operations Officer and the Squadron Commander as needed. She volunteered for Operation Christmas Child, helping to put together over 80 boxes filled with toys and needed hygiene items for overseas children in need. She also volunteers both nights and weekends at Charleston Animal Society. She has also worked special events at various locations helping to get animals adopted.
The Chamber also honored local business, Charleston RiverDogs and South Carolina Stingrays for their support to the local military community. This year, the RiverDogs joined forces with local business such as Force Protection and military partners and provided three Military Appreciation Nights at The Joe where all military, active/retired, dependants and reservists were admitted free. Military personnel and families participated in the pre-game ceremony, on-field activities during the game and various personnel are recognized for outstanding achievement / service on these nights. The trophy for the winning branch of the tug-of-war competition is a sought after trophy. Every Friday night game, the team wears a red jersey, front office wear red polos and fans are encouraged to wear red t-shirts as a show of support for the military’s Red Shirt Friday Initiative. Fans that wear red are given an admission discount and that discount is donated to aid military families.
Since 1993, the South Carolina Stingrays have been proud to support local Charleston military bases and display patriotism across the Lowcountry. This past season, the Stingrays celebrated two Military Appreciation Nights in partnership with Force Protection and one night dedicated to the United States Marine Corps. The first Military Appreciation Night kicked off Opening Night on November 5 in front of over 5,000 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum. The United States Marine Corps brought over 10,000 fans to their feet before the annual Pack the House game on February 26 by swearing in 40 new recruits from the Charleston area.
The largest military night for the Stingrays was on Sunday, March 13. The Stingrays honored all branches of the U.S. armed forces with special camouflage jerseys. The jerseys were auctioned off live at the end of the contest with proceeds going towards several military charities.