By Leslie M. Hernandez

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD Often touted as the largest military post in the free world, Fort Hood can brag about its volunteer forces as well.


post's deputy commander, in a ceremony Wednesday, said that Fort Hood enjoyed the services of more than 9,000 volunteers who gave 130,000 hours of their time in the past year to make Fort Hood and the surrounding communities a better place to live.

"Just in the hours that were officially logged by volunteers, it equates to $2.2 million that the post would not have been able to fund," said the event's guest speaker, Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons. "These volunteers are an incredible inspiration."

The Volunteer of the Year honor went to a stunned Sonia Patton. The ballroom at the Conference and Catering Center on Fort Hood erupted into applause, and everyone stood as Patton's name was announced.

Patton, who retired from the Army in 2003, volunteered nearly 1,200 hours of service for a long list of organizations that include the Army Family Team Building and Family Action Plan programs; Family Readiness Group for the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division; Boy Scouts of America Troop 222; the 4th ID Museum gift shop and several others.

Patton said she was shocked to hear her name announced as Volunteer of the Year.

"I mean, look around this room at all these incredible people, and they choose me," said Patton, trying to keep tears at bay.

She said the reasons for giving so much of herself is very simple.

"Ever since I retired, I've wanted to keep busy," Patton said. "I needed to stay busy to stay sane."

Two other volunteers were named Volunteers of Merit. Stephania Williams received the honor for the second year for service to the Exceptional Family Member Program. Patricia Giese also received the Volunteer of Merit honor for service to the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade.

Thirty-three other volunteers were recognized for outstanding volunteer service in the past year: Cherie Cain, Belkys De Quinones,Ivy Wyszynski, Susan Taylor, Candace Guy, Cindy Wayne, Vicki Fisher, Aundray Collins, Angie Fahl, Theresa Williams, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Rodriguez, Lt. Col. Carla Toft, Erin Glen-Everett, Rachel Dean, Tracy Mullins, Eric Garza, Amanda Coffill, Doris Arnett, Sarah Hunter, Suzanne Wollek, Karen Maxton, Dr. Shyamala Nair, Sonya Craft, Darie McCleaves, Rolla Combs, Lori Tucker, Robert and Annmaree Kibby, Zachary McWhirter, Andrea Reeves, Tierra McClendon and Brigette Hamman.

Contact Leslie M. Hernandez at

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