By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /
The 198th Infantry Brigade honored their selfless volunteers June 15 with a recognition luncheon at the Regimental Chapel on Sand Hill.
“There are so many volunteers that don’t want to be recognized. They work so hard every week,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Sang-Joon Won about the 198th Infantry Brigade’s decision to organize the luncheon.
“We have three groups. There’s religious program volunteers who are civilians that come from off post to help, 198th Soldiers and Families who provide services at Sand Hill, and we have Soldiers and Families that provide services for the community,” he continued.
“We just want to recognize them and show everybody that this organization cannot exist without the volunteers’ assistance. They’re a great asset,” Won added.
Chaplain (Capt.) James Burke, 198th Infantry Brigade, said, “It’s important to recognize our volunteers here at the 198th Infantry Brigade and each battalion. So many people do so much.”
These people can easily go unnoticed. People need to know about the time and effort that they commit outside of their jobs and Families to serve the community, Burke added.
Sue Pate and her husband were among those recognized. They volunteer with the Columbus, Georgia, stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.
“We enjoyed working out here with the Soldiers. It’s so nice that they’re allowed the time to come to church on Sunday. We feel like it really helps the Soldiers during the week to have this religious meeting on Sunday. We’re happy to do it. We love it,” Pate said.
Pate and her husband travel to Fort Benning every Sunday and conduct a service with Soldiers who are in basic training who aren’t allowed to leave the post.
“I think it’s a good program that we have here, helping the Soldiers feed their spiritual side. We want to help make them stronger and let them know that we appreciate them,” added Clay Coleman, who has volunteered with The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints for the past three years.
“Being recognized for the services that you render for the people out here is great,” he continued.
Sgt. Keith Pretlow, a chaplain assistant for the 198th Infantry Brigade, who was recognized for his time volunteering with the Muscogee County Juvenile Drug and Abuse Court, has been working with them since 2014.
“If I’d had someone to coach me along during my troubled time then I wouldn’t have had to go through half of the things that I did. That’s why I do it,” he said.
Taalo Lauofo and his son Milton were also recognized at the luncheon.
“My wife and I pastor a service here at Sand Hill for the initial military training Soldiers. We’ve been doing it for the last four years. We have been doing it at the Rec Center,” said Lauofo.
Lauofo said that he and his wife like to help the IMT Soldiers spiritually.
“They come here for training and we like to offer them that comfort by the word of God. A drill sergeant does (his) job building them up physically and we’re here to build them up spiritually. We believe that if we build them up spiritually, the rest will fall in place,” he added.
Gretchen Simmons was also recognized at the luncheon. Simmons has been a volunteer with the 198th Infantry Brigade for two years. She works with a number of programs, including Santa’s Castle and the Boy Scouts.
“I volunteer because I want to help out in the community,” Simmons said.
She considers her time volunteering with Santa’s Castle the most rewarding.
“Last year, we provided over 700 kids with a Christmas. They’re children of service members,” Simmons added.