This is what John and I kept asking ourselves today. We are both pretty low-ranked on the military totem pole and here the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) was rolling out the red carpet, chauffeuring us around and the town royalty showed up to watch us eat lunch.
Well, I think what John accomplished to merit all this attention was pretty awesome, but he's threatening to go on a motorcycle trip without me if I brag on him too much. Ah heck, I'm going to do it anyway.
He was named the Honor Graduate of the Year (HGY) for FLETC. In Oct 07, we both went down to Brunswick, Ga., for four months. Most folks go unaccompanied because there are no accommodations for family members on the base, but I had nothing better to do and thought I might as well stick as close as I could to my husband. You can read about some of our adventures there in my earlier blogs.
His course was in two parts; the first was a basic course that several of the 88 participating agencies' federal agents take. That was the course for which he was name honor grad. Then he went on to complete the Air Force specific course, graduated from that in Feb 08 and we came home. They mentioned he would be up for honor grad of the year at the end of the fiscal year (Sept 30, 2008), and would compete against all the other honor grads from that year.
He checked the website a couple of months ago and saw that a Secret Service agent got the award, so he thought that was the end of it. But then several weeks ago he got a call to congratulate him on his award. The press release online was from last year's recipient (it's updated now ).
We thought, "wow, that's cool. he won." Then they called to start making travel arrangements. They were flying us down, putting us up in a hotel, rental car and all that for a ceremony to present him the award. Also pretty cool. Then someone else calls to find out what kind of gun he wants. Yeah. Turns out a private foundation buys the HGY a gun. Sweet!
The general who is over all of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI, the career field John is in as a reservist) sent out these stats to the whole career field to explain the significance of this award.
"To provide some insight on the scope of this accomplishment, during FY08, 5,606 law enforcement students graduated from one of the FLETC basic programs eligible under the parameters of the HGY award. A very limited number of students qualify as Distinguished Graduates, with numerous FLETC basic classes concluding with no student meeting the required academic, firearms qualification, and physical efficiency battery (PEB) scores needed to merit Distinguished Graduate status. That said, in the rare instance where more than one student qualifies for Distinguished Graduate, only one graduate can be designated the Honor Graduate for that class, and that would be the student with the highest academic average. In FY08, there were eight Honor Graduates, and of those, [John] graduated with the highest composite score."
To make this even more exciting for the Air Force and OSI, he added, "This marks the nineteenth year in which this award is being presented, and the first in which an AFOSI Special Agent has been honored as the award recipient."
We were able to have John's dad join us for the ceremony today and we all got VIP treatment. Really, like even badges that said VIP on them. They took us on a very extensive base tour, along with the general, and we got to play in simulators, and I even shot a bad guy on a "plane" with simunition.
(yes, i think my eyes are closed and I think I shot him in the mouth)
We were expecting a pretty small luncheon/awards ceremony. But there were about 100 people there, including various directors from the school, local business folks, staffers from Senator Chambliss and Representative Kingston's offices, a district court judge, local FBI and US Marshals directors and so on. So many folks came up afterwords with a gleam in their eyes to shake his hand, commenting on how they were retired Air Force/OSI and how proud they were that he brought this honor to their branch.
Today was just awesome and I was so happy to see my hard-working husband get recognized for what he's accomplished. Even though he's uncomfortable with the attention, as most people who work in his career field are, he deserves it. What's better, he took the opportunity to show the people who work at FLETC how what they do matters.
Here we are in front of the Honor Grad of the Year plaque that now bears his name and will soon display his photo. In the picture with us is Brig. Gen. Dana Simmons, the commander of AFOSI, John's dad, Teddy, and Connie Patrick, the director of FLETC.