Alan's photo made front page of the Sun Herald and his story was page A2. Pretty awesome! We're proud of Alan and what he's accomplished with us. Great job!!!
Here's the article from the local paper:
An airman who admits he shuns attention will be the center of attention today in Gulfport when President Bush gives him the President's Volunteer Service Award.
Alan Petz, a Peoria, Ill., resident assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, will receive the honor for his volunteer work with Hands On Gulf Coast. The group is a disaster-response project of a network of 62 nonprofit groups from around the world.
Bush will present the award shortly after Air Force One lands in Gulfport, according to a White House news release. The presidential visit is Bush's 14th trip to the Mississippi Coast since Hurricane Katrina.
The award recognizes children, adults, families or groups who have made a difference in their communities through volunteer service. The category that honors Petz is for volunteer service of 100 or more hours. Petz has donated about 720 hours in hurricane recovery work.
"I like to stay under the radar," Petz said. "I don't do things to be recognized. But this is an honor."
Petz, 22, said he is a bit nervous but excited. His mother and sister will be present for the award, given before the presidential entourage heads to Biloxi. He is assigned to the 81st Medical Operations Squadron Nutritional Medicine Flight. He works at the Keesler Medical Center dining facility.
Petz was stationed in Biloxi when Katrina struck.
"I'm as much a victim as other members of the community," Petz said. "It has given me a lot of enjoyment to get out in the community and help others restore their lives. It's just amazing all that's been done."
After Katrina, the base hospital was closed for repairs and Petz was assigned to help Hands On Gulf Coast. He led teams of volunteers to remove trees, clean debris and gut homes. In April 2006, he was reassigned to base duties, but has continued as a Hands On volunteer. He helps rebuild homes, designs healthy menus, prepares hot meals for volunteers and also maintains their vehicles.
"Hands On has become like a second family to me," he said.
A Keesler spokesman said this is a banner week for Petz. He's due for promotion to airman 1st class on Friday.
Bush, in his January 2002 State of the Union address, created USA Freedom Corps, an Office of the White House, to strengthen and expand volunteer service. More than 61 million Americans volunteered in 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.