Military members on the Peninsula do more than protect the country, they also contribute to the community.
The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce recognized Peninsula service members, on Tuesday, who devoted significant time and talent to off-duty community activities in addition to their primary military duties, according to Bob McKenna, President and CEO of the chamber.
“The award is not for a single act, but rather for sustained excellence in service to the Virginia Peninsula community for a period of at least one year,” McKenna noted.
This year Military Citizen of the Year was awarded to a service member from the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. Vice Adm. James Kilby, Deputy Commander U.S. Fleet Forces, gave the keynote address.
Nominations for this award are open to active duty E-6 and below.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lance S. Buchanan spearheaded a complete overhaul of Williamsburg Christian Academy’s baseball program where his children attend school. He coaches youth volleyball on the junior varsity, varsity and recreation level. As his homeowners’ association’s vice president, Buchanan organized a community yard sale that included 30 households.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Robert L. Gaynor led more than a dozen service members in six Adopt-A-Highway collection events along Route 60 in Williamsburg, resulting in 360 gallons of trash. For the Norfolk NATO festival last June, he led a team of service members in loading and off-loading floats. The Gloucester Volunteer fire and Rescue Department benefited from 300 hours of his service and time.
Marine Sgt. Jonathan A. Kling organized and oversaw the rehabilitation and landscape of a local elderly disabled person’s property deemed unlivable by county officials. He did this through a faith-based organization called Proclaiming Grace in New Kent County and Upper James City County. Two months of work at the property resulted in 200 tons of waste.
He helped James City County Parks and Recreation with set-up and tear downs for two carnivals. Kling helped families with logistics moves and cut and delivered wood for a local family without a conventional heater. With The Upward Church, he volunteered more than 200 hours helping with the food pantry, thrift story, security and more.
In addition to serving in the U.S. Air Force, Senior Airman Lorenzo Walker, is a student at Norfolk State University. He volunteers with Norfolk Initiative for Chess Excellence at Lambert’s Point Community Center tutoring children in grades fifth through 12th grade. He partnered with the Hampton Cub Scouts to teach how to properly retire a United States flag. He helps with New Covenant Church to help provide meals for the needy citizens.
U.S. Air Force Airman Isreal Lopez found the 1-210th AVN BN Unity Through Community Team.with the Highlander Aviation battalion and the Hampton community.
Putting in more than 1,000 hours, he partnered with the Do-Gooders of Hampton Roads, Community Knights and Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation to foster civilian-military partnerships. Hundreds of volunteers worked more than 20 thousand hours to restore the Bassett and Elmerton Cemeteries in Hampton. The historic African-American cemeteries were neglected for several years resulting in six-foot tall brush. Volunteers cleared the area, making way for Soldiers to place flags on headstones of veterans, some dating back to the civil war, on Memorial Day. Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck recognized Lopez for his efforts to improve the city’s relationship with military members.