Maj. Deric J. Hawkins, a native of Leary, has been awarded the Bronze Star for his "exceptionally meritorious service" to the U.S. Army while deployed from April 2010 until April 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Overseas Contingency Operations as chief of operations for International Security Assistance Forces Regional Command (South) Joint Border Coordination Center.
In awarding the medal to the Albany State University graduate, Army officials noted that Hawkins' "uncompromising professionalism, stalwart leadership and initiative" distinguished him as "an intricate source of knowledge for Border Security Zone operations with the 1,031-kilometer Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran border."
The Monroe High School graduate led non-commissioned officers and officers with no ground, border or operations knowledge and transformed the undermanned, inexperienced staff "into a regional asset with national reach on border issues and operations." Army officials said Hawkins' leadership allowed the coordination center to develop into "the center of gravity" for sychronizing operations and decreasing conflict in the battle area between Regional Commands South and Southwest and the Afghanistan and Pakistan border.
These Southwest Georgians have completed the eight-week Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.
-- Navy Seaman Recruit Latia N. Guest, daughter of Lizzie M. Guest and Raymond O. Neal, both of Albany. Guest is a 2010 graduate of Westover High School.
-- Navy Seaman Cedric Jackson Jr., son of Cedric Jackson of Albany. Jackson is a 2005 graduate of Westover High School.