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Chamber honors military

Leland Burkart, chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s military affairs committee, presented awards to several Marines at a military appreciation breakfast held at Doublegate Country Club in Albany Wednesday.

Leland Burkart, chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s military affairs committee, presented awards to several Marines at a military appreciation breakfast held at Doublegate Country Club in Albany Wednesday.

ALBANY, Ga. — Not only do American military members put their lives on the line for their country, but they are also called upon to make significant contributions to the communities in which they live.

Albany is no exception.

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a military appreciation breakfast at Doublegate Country Club on Wednesday as an effort to recognize such contributions.

When people in the Albany area think of the military, they think of Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany — an entity officials indicate has helped not only establish Albany as a military-friendly community, but has also sparked fruitful partnerships with other organizations within the area.

“It is a special, unique collaboration,” said Miles Espy, chairman of the board for the Chamber.

The breakfast also included a military tribute video presentation compiled by WXFL-TV, which included footage from the funeral for Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton — the 24-year-old Marine from Leesburg who was killed in Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend.

Introducing the video on behalf of the Fox affiliate was Romney Smith, a news anchor and reporter with the station.

“It takes a lot of restraint to keep your composure when talking about someone who has fallen, especially someone from Southwest Georgia,” she said.

There were also some Marines honored at the breakfast, with the awards being presented by Leland Burkart, chairman of the Chamber’s military affairs committee.

Sgt. Andrew Barrett was named the non-commissioned officer of the quarter for Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM), Cpl. Edward Peifer was named the non-commissioned officer of the quarter for the base and Cpl. Eric Barnes was named Marine of the Quarter for the base.

“It was a great honor to be recognized,” Peifer said following the breakfast. “(It is good to see the community) actually supporting us. It is a blessing to stand up and be honored.”

Peifer has been engaged in volunteer work during his stint in Albany, and said he intends to remain active.

“It is a chance for us to give back to the community, and it gives the community a chance to see us,” he said.

Also making an appearance was Col. Donald Davis, commanding officer of MCLB-Albany.

“We believe in one team, one fight,” Davis said. “Even though we (MCLB and LOGCOM) have different missions, we both wear the globe and anchor.”

Beyond the goal of getting equipment to where it needs to go when it needs to be there, Marines in the Albany area — such as Peifer — have a reputation for being eager volunteers.

Specific examples Davis cited were involvement the United Way Day of Caring as well as Read Across America Day.

“For them, it reaches beyond a paycheck,” he said.

Chris Hardy, who took over as the Chamber’s CEO in April, said at the breakfast that he had never served in the military himself, nor did he grow up in a military household.

But, over the last two months, he said he has received an education about the impact a military installation can have on a community.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but when I attended the change of command (where Davis took over as the base’s commander on May 25), it was awe-inspiring. I have more appreciation for what you do,” he said to the Marines in the audience. “It’s good to be a part of a community with a strong military presence and (where there is also a strong relationship between a military base and the community).”

The next breakfast the Chamber is hosting is scheduled for Sept. 19, which will be highlighting Strive2Thrive — an initiative launched in 2009 by the Chamber to combat poverty. That will be immediately followed by the Chamber’s annual business expo, Hardy said.