Jerome McLaughlin was a little worried Friday that he might forget to enjoy the moment when he was honored as Fort Gordon’s 2013 military police officer of the year, but when his name was called, those fears dissolved.
McLaughlin, 58, could not help but smile as the award’s announcer recognized how his “exceptional performance of duty contributed immeasurably” to protecting the 15,000 service members and 2,800 military families who work and live at the 55,000-acre Army post.
More than 150 people watched inside Alexander Hall as he accepted the honor.
“You do not get recognized too often in this line of work,” said McLaughlin, who has been a Fort Gordon police officer for 12 years. “I am extremely thankful.”
McLaughlin was one of nine service members, civilians, volunteers and public safety officials honored as Fort Gordon’s 2013 “Best of the Best.”
Col. Sam Anderson, the fort’s garrison commander, said recipients were chosen from the post’s quarterly award winners and that the competition was fierce among the 36 people who qualified for the contest.
Each recipient was congratulated by representatives from the offices of Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
The year’s top service member, noncommissioned officer and instructor were awarded the Army Commendation Medal, and all other honorees were presented a framed certificate.
“I cannot emphasize enough that there were no losers,” Anderson said. “Every service member and civilian that we recognized during our quarterly awards deserves our thanks and praise. We would have been proud to have any one of them on stage.
McLaughlin, who was nominated in the fourth quarter, said he plans to hang his certificate above his TV for family and guests to see.
The service member of the year, Sgt. Justin Tyndall, was recognized during the third quarter. He wore his commendation medal proudly after the ceremony.
“I give every day my all, and somehow, by the grace of God, I won,” said Tyndall, who came to Fort Gordon in summer 2011.
Tyndall was honored for his “high degree of professionalism” in helping the 7th Signal Command operate 37 network enterprise centers and provide information technology services to installations worldwide.
He is expecting a daughter, Layla, in May and said he hopes stories of the award will inspire her to work hard and get ahead in life.
LaVerne Grooms was honored as Fort Gordon’s civilian of the year. Grooms, of the Army Signal Network Enterprise Center, has been at Fort Gordon 10 years and worked in the federal civilian sector for 31 years.
The third-quarter honoree plans to celebrate the award with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, all visiting from Atlanta.
“Everyone honored in my office this year was very worthy,” Grooms said. “I am extremely proud. This is a huge honor.”