Two Fort Huachuca employees were honored Friday night at Buena High School after being selected as Heroes to represent Sierra Vista along with the Buena High School Marching Colts Band at the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Dec. 27.
During the pre-game show, Sgt. 1st Class Craig Hannum, 18th Military Police Detachment sergeant, and Family Readiness Support Assistant, Shawnee Carlile, 11th Signal Brigade, were honored along four other heroes chosen from the community to attend with the band.
“I am incredibly grateful and honored; it was a big surprise. I work with so many wonderful people especially at the brigade and a lot of wonderful Soldiers and Family members, so I was very surprised and absolutely grateful and honored,” Carlile said.
“I even asked the director when he called, ‘Are you sure?’ You know there are so many other people that should get this but I just feel that I have a passion for Soldiers and Family members and doing whatever I can to help them so I think the senior advisor Beth, that nominated me, put a lot of that into it,” Carlile added.
“Well I don’t think I am a hero, that is very flattering. I was surprised, I really was. I felt really honored, and it just felt really good to be recognized like this. It is really cool and just nice to represent my unit, my installation and my community, so that’s really cool,” Hannum said.
The Soldier has served in the Army for 17 years, including being deployed to Iraq twice. “I have been told that the active shooter program that I put together has had a huge impact on the installation and a few businesses downtown, helping prepare or preventing the worst-case scenario and should it happen, to be prepared. I’ve heard a lot of that so that makes me feel good to know that it is making an impact,” he added.
“In December we are taking the Marching Colts to San Diego to participate in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl and we have done this bowl game two other times in the last 20 years that I have been here and it is a great trip. Great parade and it’s a great bowl game, the parade is America’s largest big balloon parade, and the football game is always an exciting one in Qualcomm Stadium. There are 14 bands from across the United States that are going to participate in it, and bowl game committee has challenged all the bands to bring along with them, their community heroes, because that’s the theme of the halftime show this year,” said Dr. Duane Chun, band director.
“They suggested we look for heroes in the areas of armed forces, community services, emergency services and medical services and so I went out over the summer and got local businesses as sponsors to help, well really to cover the whole price for us to bring along a hero with us as well as a spouse or another person to go with them. And then I went to the [Sierra Vista] Herald and they helped us get the word out to the community to send in a nomination for someone they thought was providing service above and beyond that we could bring with us to San Diego to help represent Sierra Vista in the bowl game and so that’s how they were nominated and selected,” Chun added of the process.
The Marching Colts were invited to attend this specific bowl since they have participated in the event previously. “Several years ago we did the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and got first place in that, and that kind of puts you on a list of schools that know how to travel and can do things like this. And we got an invitation, and I thought it was time to take up on it again,” Chun said.
Carlile will be taking her husband Bear on the trip with her. “I love San Diego, I am from California, so I can’t wait to go to Old Town and see some cool places and I think this will be his second time out there so that will be nice,” she added.
“Oh I can’t wait [to attend the game] I think he is more excited then I am. I am really excited about it,” Carlile said.
Hannum is taking his wife Claudia on the trip. “I’m really excited to go to San Diego and be part of the holiday bowl game, kind of hope University of Arizona goes but we’ll see what happens. I am just really excited and honored quite honestly I am honored,” he said.
When asked why Hannum was nominated, nominator Bill Hess, senior reporter at the Sierra Vista Herald said, “I have known him for some years and he is a Cochise county resident. He has done good work. I have heard him speak before, I heard him at the recent one [presentation] about suicides and he talks about that and he is a good presenter and all that good stuff. We were looking for a Soldier so I went ahead and nominated him. He is deserving of it, so why not. As a Soldier and as a citizen he is involved in the community in many ways. He is just a good, strong Soldier and member of the community.”
“What makes Shawnee unique is her ability to understand the brigade’s connection to III Corps in Texas, and to be equally focused on a Family member who needs assistance. She has earned the respect of those at III Corps, at the brigade and throughout Fort Huachuca for her dedication and her ongoing efforts to answer the question: “How can I make this better for our Soldiers and Families,” said nominator Beth Bellizzi, 11th Signal Brigade Family member and volunteer.
“Some examples of how Shawnee has made a difference to the brigade, Fort Huachuca and the community include: developed the brigade’s first monthly welcome program for all new brigade Soldiers and Families; created the brigade’s first Care Team volunteer program, which supports Families during emergency situations; helped institute the first “Bright Ideas” program to help FRG [Family Readiness Group’s] leaders across post share ideas, and she created an entire FRG training plan to ensure that brigade FRGs have all the tools they need before the deployment. In addition to the hours she devotes to the brigade, at evening and weekend events as well. She is also an active member of the Sierra Vista American Legion,” Bellizzi said.
“Sierra Vista has a lot to be proud of and it is nice that we can take the students away and give them an opportunity to perform outside of our community and it brings recognition to us,” Chun said.
The other heroes selected from Sierra Vista are: Shelby Weller, manager of Casa De La Paz, Hospice of Sierra Vista Regional Health Center; Rick and Margaret Klein, school community Buena Performing Arts Center managers; Fry Firefighter Steve McMurtrie; and Sgt. Ken Foster, Cochise County deputy sheriff.