Association Honors Actor, Others for Troop Support

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2007 - The Military Officers Association of America recognized actor Gary Sinise, the DuPont company and six other people for their support of the military, during the association's 10th annual awards ceremony here last night.

MOAA is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with members of the military and their families.

"It's a great opportunity to say thanks to people who are very dedicated and patriotic, and whose goal is to make the country better," said retired Air Force Col. Marvin Harris, MOAA's director of public relations.

Harris praised the award winners for having the "the great foresight and ... dedication to realize how important the military is and how much they want to support the strength of the military."

Actor Gary Sinise received MOAA's Distinguished Service Award for his years of support to servicemembers.

"(Sinise) has a pretty good history of working with the (United Services Organization) and supporting the troops," Harris said. "For example, he's made 22 trips overseas with his (Lt. Dan Band)."

Sinise currently stars in CBS's crime drama "CSI:NY," but is perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Dan in the movie "Forrest Gump." The actor is a long-time supporter of the military, having participated in several celebrity tours to the Middle East to visit with troops.

On his second such tour in November 2003, he had the opportunity to visit an Iraqi school, where he noticed the lack of basic school supplies. Upon returning to the States, he co-founded Operation Iraqi Children, a program that enables Americans to send school supplies to Iraqi students.

He also started the Lt. Dan Band with Chicago composer Kimo Williams. The band has completed four tours with the United Services Organization.

Yesterday, Kerri Turner from TV's "JAG," now in syndication, and Mykelti Williamson, who played "Bubba" in the movie "Forrest Gump," joined Sinise to visit troops recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It was Sinise's tenth visit to the hospital in four years.

Sinise deflected the accolades as he accepted the award.

"I kind of have a hard time with this kind of thing because I just feel that it's my duty as an American, and as somebody who can do something, (that I) should do something," Sinise said.

He added that his commitment to military personnel stems from a desire to ensure no servicemember ever endures the treatment Vietnam veterans received.

"We all remember what it was like for our Vietnam vets to come home from war," he said. "I do everything I can to get out there and make sure that our vets coming home today never, ever in the future have to face that again."

Chad Holiday, the DuPont company's chairman and chief executive officer, accepted a Distinguished Service Award for his company's strong support of its military employees. The company also works with America Supports You home-front member Treat the Troops. DuPont has made a monetary donation to the group to help with the cost of baking and shipping cookies to troops serving overseas.

"Thank you so much," Holliday said. "I accept this award on behalf of my 60,000 colleagues at DuPont."

U.S. Reps. Chet Edwards of Texas and Walter Jones of North Carolina accepted MOAA's Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional Achievement Award for championing legislation to support the military and their families. Their Senate colleagues, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska also received the award.

MOAA also honored Sen. John Warner of Virginia for his six years as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee by naming a scholarship for him.

Other honorees include Congressional staff members John Chapla, of the House Armed Services Committee, and John Conger, who serves as Edwards' legislative director. Each received the Col. Paul W. Arcari Meritorious Service Awards for their broad support of military personnel.

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