CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The Volunteer Skills and Development Program recognized 9th Communication Battalion as the Small Unit Volunteer of the Year during a recognition ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 25.
A battalion must have 150 or less total volunteers to qualify as a nominee for the Small Unit Volunteer of the Year award. The battalion with the most service hours and the greatest impact on the local community wins.
The 9th Comm. Bn., Marines accumulated more than 3,200 hours of service while volunteering with Fallbrook Veterans of Foreign Wars, Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, and various community outreach programs.
Lt. Col. Ahmed Williamson, the commanding officer of 9th Comm. Bn., I Marine Expeditionary Force, accepted the award on the battalion’s behalf.
“I’m really proud of the opportunity of our Marines from our battalion to be recognized,” said Williamson, who is from Upper Marlborough, Md. “It’s definitely an honor to receive this award.”
Williamson said he encourages his Marines to volunteer and participate in community outreach programs.
“It’s part of our commitment to serve,” he said. “A part of being a good citizen-warrior is that we understand and appreciate the environment and communities we’re in and have the commitment to invest in it.”
Staff Sgt. Robert Rayburn, the deputy family readiness officer for 9th Comm. Bn., I MEF, who was one of the nominees for the 2012 Military Volunteer of the Year, coaches T-ball and attends most of the volunteer programs the battalion participates in.
“I don’t do it for recognition,” said Rayburn, who is from San Jose, Calif. “I do it because it’s what I want to do in my heart. The sense of knowing you put a smile on someone’s face makes the world of difference to me.”
Other categories during the ceremony were for the Youth Volunteer of the Year, Civilian Volunteer of the Year, Team Volunteer of the Year and Large Unit Volunteer of the Year.
All nominees were welcomed to the ceremony ‘red-carpet’ style and were honored by children from Corrillo Elementary School who signed and sang: “I’m Proud to be an American,” saluting the service members and their volunteer efforts in the community.