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Military honored at Rise 'n' Shine

Leland Burkart, chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, presents special honors to four Marines at the chamber’s military appreciation breakfast on Wednesday. They are, from left, Cpl. James Etheridge, Sgt. Stephanie Bowens, Sgt. Robert Mann and Sgt. Johnnie Encarnacion.

Leland Burkart, chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, presents special honors to four Marines at the chamber’s military appreciation breakfast on Wednesday. They are, from left, Cpl. James Etheridge, Sgt. Stephanie Bowens, Sgt. Robert Mann and Sgt. Johnnie Encarnacion.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, a military installation known for its significant economic impact to Southwest Georgia, was the focal point of Wednesday's Albany Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

The chamber hosted its "Military Appreciation Rise 'n' Shine" breakfast at the Doublegate Country Club.

Kicking off the program was Cynthia George, chair of the chamber's board of directors, with some welcoming remarks. That was followed by a video presentation from WFXL-TV highlighting a series the station recently did on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, where basic training is conducted for enlisted Marines.

Among a group of Marines there to represent the Albany military community was Col. Don Davis, commanding officer of MCLB-Albany.

"We are not a social or fraternal organization," he said. "We are a brotherhood of warriors. Nothing more, nothing less."

Acknowledgment was given to the changes that the country as well as the military have undergone since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, specifically some of the sacrifices that have been made. Davis mentioned of Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton, a Leesburg native who lost his life during the Memorial Day weekend last year in Afghanistan.

"This young Marine lived just a few miles from here. He put his life on hold so others could enjoy their freedoms," the colonel said. "In the end, he gave all he had -- his life."

It was also noted that, even though times have changed, those serving the nation have not.

"Despite these changes, there are some things that never change -- and that is our values," Davis said. "Even though the tools of the trade have changed, we have not changed."

As is always part of the chamber's military appreciation program, special honors were given to a group of four Marines. They were Sgt. Stephanie Bowens, who was named MCLB Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter; Cpl. James Etheridge, who was recognized as MCLB Marine of the Year; Sgt. Robert Mann, the Marine Corps Logistics Command Marine of the Quarter, and Sgt. Johnnie Encarnacion, LOGCOM Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter.

The awards were presented at the breakfast by Leland Burkart, chairman of the chamber's military affairs committee.

"Your service to our country shines bright ...," he said to the honorees following the presentation. "If anyone deserves special recognition, it is you. Thank you for your service to our country."