Coasties, agencies honored at Chamber Military Affairs Committee luncheon

051619 Military Luncheon
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Winners of Exemplary Service and Community Support Awards presented by the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee pose following the Chamber’s annual awards banquet at the Chief Petty Officers Club, Wednesday. Honorees included: (back row, l-r) AET First Class Kevin Cavanaugh, AMT Zach Geurtsen, Brian Gray of Food Bank of the Albemarle, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Williams, Boatswain's Mate Second Class Aaron Reese, AETC Timothy Garfield, Storekeeper Second Class Britney Tribuzio, Chief Storekeeper Penny Benson (representing award winner Joshua Brown) and Sentara Albemarle Medical Center President Coleen Santa Ana; and (front row, l-r) Gavin Whitehurst and Alex Whitehurst.

051619 Military Luncheon

By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce honored military members and their supporters during its Military Affairs Committee’s annual awards luncheon on Wednesday.

The Military Affairs Committee recognized six U.S. Coast Guard service members and an Army National Guard staff sergeant for their exemplary service to either the military or the community.

The committee also handed out community support awards to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and Food Bank of the Albemarle, plus special recognition for two youngsters, Gavin and Alex Whitehurst, for their special gesture of support for Coasties affected by the partial government shutdown earlier this year.

Military Affairs Committee Chairman Marcus Cutrell presented most of Wednesday's awards, telling Coast Guard and military personnel and their families that their service to community and country is never taken for granted.

The Coast Guard and military personnel recognized at Wednesday’s event included:

* Storekeeper First Class Joshua Brown of Base Elizabeth City. Brown works “tirelessly” to help with technical and financial oversight of Coast Guard units, monitoring spending across thousands of transactions worth millions of dollars, Cutrell said. Due to an event conflict, Chief Storekeeper Penny Benson accepted Brown's award in his stead.

* Storekeeper Second Class Britney Tribuzio of the Aviation Logistics Center: Tribuzio manages property, including disposing of surplus electronics, Cutrell said.

* Boatswain's Mate Second Class Aaron Reese of the Small Boat Station. Reese has led “high-tempo operations,” including multiple search-and-rescue and law enforcement missions, and saved money by eliminating excess equipment, Cutrell said.

* AETC Timothy Garfield of the Aviation Technical Training Center. Garfield received a commendation for helping rescue a woman trapped in her car after an accident, Cutrell said.

* Aviation Maintenance Technician Zach Geurtsen of the Acquisition Project Office. After a disruption in operations, Geurtsen led a repair team that got work back to normal in five days, which was far less time than expected, Cutrell said.

* Avionics Electrical Technician First Class Kevin Cavanaugh of Air Station Elizabeth City. Cavanaugh volunteered his time in Perquimans County last year, including speaking to school children for Veterans Day and helping collect food for food pantries.

* Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kendall Williams. According to Cutrell, Williams goes “above and beyond” to ensure his fellow Guardsmen are well-trained, and stays accessible for them. Cutrell also noted Williams served in Iraq in 2005.

The luncheon also recognized Sentara Albemarle as the Military-Supporting Organization of the year, and Food Bank of the Albemarle as Community Partner of the Year.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Randy Meador presented those awards, explaining both agencies were recognized for the same reason: their major donations and support for Coast Guard families who went without pay for several weeks during the partial shutdown of the federal government that started in late December and lasted about a month. Hospital staff took up collections and donated numerous household items to help Coasties get by, he said.

The Food Bank also provided Coasties with food, allowing them to feed their families without missing car payments and other financial obligations, Meador said. He noted the Food Bank’s generosity has given Coasties added impetus to volunteer at the agency.

Meador also recognized Gavin and Alex Whitehurst, elementary school students in Camden, who donated money they got for Christmas to Coasties in need. Meador praised the touching gesture, and even shared with them a letter of appreciation from Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz.

Wednesday's luncheon also featured retired Coast Guard service member Charles “Skip” Zinsmeister, who briefly discussed his service and the Coast Guard's long tradition of community involvement.