View Full Version : Sywanyk, Patton honored with Mack McKinney Awards

01-24-09, 07:54 PM
Sywanyk, Patton honored with Mack McKinney Awards
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January 24, 2009 - 7:12 PM

Two more men now walk among the elite group of Sgt. Maj. C. A. "Mack" McKinney Award recipients.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ihor Sywanyk and retired 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vincent W. Patton III received a tribute and the award Friday evening from the Down East Chapter of the Non Commissioned Officers Association.

This was the 17th year the award has been presented by NCOA. The award is presented to those who demonstrated professionalism, dedication and service to the country and its military over a sustained period of time, according to the organization.

NCOA Board of Directors secretary, retired Sgt. Maj. Paul Siverson, served as host and made the presentation to Patton.

Patton is the director of Community Outreach, also known as "*************," the largest Web site devoted to the military community, covering benefits, information and transition. In addition, he is chairman of the editorial board for the U.S. Naval Institute and serves on the board of visitors for the National Defense Intelligence College.

He was the first African-American to hold the Coast Guard's senior-most enlisted ranking position as the Master Chief Petty Officer from1998 to 2002. He earned his doctorate of education in 1984 from the American University in Washington, D.C., while on active duty. Patton received numerous military awards throughout his career, including the Distinguished Service Medal. He received a master of theology in applied religious studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. after his military retirement.

Patton said the award meant a lot to him because Mack McKinney was a personal friend and a mentor.

"This is one of the biggest highlights of my life," he said. "In the 20 years I knew Mack, both personally and professionally ... we really bonded. He taught me, particularly on active duty, the kinds of things to say and do to care for people. You have to feel blessed to have had a person like him in your life. You just don't know how honored I am to be among the other recipients. I owe a great deal of my success to (Mack McKinney) putting his arm around me."

MyKola Sywanyk presented the award to his father.

"My father is an outstanding person - I am so proud of my father, everything he has done, this establishment (referring to Sywanyks Scarlet & Gold on Henderson Avenue), and in this community," he said as he handed the award to his father.

Sywanyk served the Marine Corps for more than 32 years, with several units, including Tank Battalion, infantry and motor transport. He was also a drill instructor at the Parris Island, S.C. Drill Instructors School. He received many awards, including the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Marine Corps Reserve medal. He is a member of the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, Marine Corps League and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He has owned Sywanyks Scarlet and Gold for 13 years.

Ihor Sywanyk said receiving the award was a great honor.

"When I look at the recipients over the last 17 years - I'm in a good group of folks that have done a lot of things for this country, for this city too," he said. "It is a great honor to be in that select group. It will be more difficult for me to find a place to display it."

Contact Topsail area reporter Suzanne Ulbrich at sulbrich@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8454.

Left to right front, Cliff Davis, Ihor Sywanyks, Vincent W. Patton III, Gene Overstreet, Left to right back, Joe Houle, Mike Rooney, and Paul Siverson at the presentation of the Mack McKinney Awards.