JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Brig. Gen. Russell Driggers, Joint Base San Antonio and 502d Air Base Wing commander; Robert Naething, deputy to the commanding general of U.S. Army North; and Joseph Bray, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Texas (South), among others, awarded 26 individuals with the Army’s Public Service Commendation Medal to honor their selfless service in volunteering their own time to give back to military families by assisting in funeral honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Driggers encouraged the audience to take a look back at the Declaration of Independence. Specifically asking everyone to pay attention to the portion that speaks on the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“There is no finer recognition of the unalienable rights of life than when we stand before family and friends, stand before God, and they render respects for that life served,” Driggers said. “And that is what you do every single day. You are protectors of our nation's dignity. You are protectors of our nation's service. And what you do provides that meaning that is so important to the families of those who have passed. And you do it voluntarily. That is amazing.”
These MSD individuals have distinguished themselves and contributed significantly.
“What you do is so important,” Naething said. “We are in full support of everything that you do. This award is the Secretary of the Army Public Service Commendation Medal. I’m not eligible for it. I can't earn it. Brig. Gen. Driggers can't earn it. A lot of people can't earn it. It is a very special award given to those individuals who step up and go above and beyond with no recompense. They just do it because it's in their heart. They just do it because it's the right thing.”
For retired Vietnam War veteran, Staff Sgt. Art Cruz, who buried his cousin, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jose C. Diaz, last May, the service rendered by the Memorial Service Detachment holds special meaning.
“I get goosebumps knowing there are still those that wore the uniform who still choose to serve and contribute for the good of our veteran and military community,” said Cruz. “I know Jose would have appreciated their service at his funeral.”
Since 1991, the Memorial Services Detachment has participated in more than 42,500 funeral services. Eligibility for an MSD member to receive the Army Public Service Award is five years of volunteer service as an MSD honor guard and complete two consecutive years of at least 200 volunteer hours each year by Sept. 30 of the year he receives the award.
Mike Kinkade, bugler for the Fort Sam Houston Memorial Services Detachment, plays “Taps” during a funeral at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio March 15. The funeral marked the detachment’s 40,000th funeral service.