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Program honors 'Good Neighbors' to Fort Hood's families

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Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:08 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

A lot of people do more than we do, Anna Crawford said about her and her husband Bill's selection as Fort Hood Good Neighbors.

"We're still wondering why we got it," she said Wednesday night during a celebration at Club Hood for the Crawfords and six others who received the honor.

Turns out, that's exactly what the other recipients – James and Lois Anderson, retired Col. Ralph and Mary Gauer, Lorette Rhode and Bob Sykes – said when Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch called them with the news that they were selected.

"And that's why they're Good Neighbors," said Lynch, who commands III Corps and Fort Hood.

The Good Neighbor program is "designed to recognize respected members of the local community whose contributions have significantly enhanced the well being of soldiers and family members of Fort Hood," according to information from the post. "This program allows the Fort Hood community to give back to the local 'Good Neighbors' a small token of Fort Hood's appreciation for their years of enduring support for The Great Place."

Lynch announced that he will name Good Neighbors every six months.

Each recipient announced Wednesday night contributes to the community, leading boards, clubs, alliances, committees and organizations. They have their own areas of expertise.

For James and Lois Anderson, it is education. James has served as chancellor of Central Texas College since 1988, retiring from the Air Force as a colonel before entering education.

"I'm not one of you," James said to the soldiers in the audience. "But I care about every one of you."

Lois retired in 1999 after serving more than 10 years as dean of the Continental Campus, Central Texas College.

The Crawfords are generous contributors to furthering the education of many soldiers and their families. They sponsor, personally and through one of their companies, Guyco Construction Inc., $11,000 in scholarships through the Central Texas-Fort Hood chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) a year, according to information from Fort Hood.

Public service characterizes retired Col. Ralph and Mary Gauer. The couple bounced around the world for 30 years as an Army family, finally retiring in 1990 in Harker Heights.

Ralph held key positions at Fort Hood, including chief of staff of the 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps. After retiring, he joined CBS Television and worked as a military analyst during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, according to information from Fort Hood.

He then entered politics, eventually receiving an appointment to the Texas Military Preparedness Commission in 2002. He currently serves on that commission and as president for the Texas AUSA.

Mary served for 14 years as a Harker Heights council member and as mayor, and later in state political organizations. She is president-elect of Families in Crisis Inc., a local domestic abuse shelter, according to information from Fort Hood.

"This is the most humbling experience," Mary said.

Rhode's work with the Army and Fort Hood began during World War II when she and her family helped soldiers station at Camp Hood. Her father, Alfred, would pick up soldiers for church and Sunday dinner, according to Fort Hood.

Her service and dedication to Fort Hood continues through today when Camp Hood is a whimsical anecdote to those who know the post as the United States' largest military installation.

"Over the years, she and Ed (her husband and the first Good Neighbor recipient) have entertained thousands of soldiers and local folks in their backyard," according to information from Fort Hood.

Whether it was providing credit to soldiers or hiring kids whose parents didn't have money for school supplies or baking, Rhode is synonymous with community service.

As manager of a business many in the Fort Hood community rely on, Killeen's Wal-Mart Supercenter, Sykes has contributed to the military through the store and his experience in the retail business.

"His management specialties have enabled him to hold positions where he has been a strong advocate for soldiers and family members," according to information from Fort Hood.

Those include positions with the local AUSA chapter, United Service Organizations, Armed Services YMCA, Fisher House of Fort Hood and the Law Enforcement Assistant Fund.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at astair@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7547.

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