5/14/2012 By Cpl. Bruno J. Bego , 2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — For more than two centuries Marines have built the reputation of being professional warriors who are capable of performing and succeeding at everything they do.

Contributing remarkably to that legacy is Gunnery Sgt. Donald L. Garrison Jr., the headquarters company first sergeant with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, who received the Government Employees Insurance Company Military Service Member of the Year award for 2011 during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., April 30.

To be considered for the award, a nominee’s package needs to include a biography, reason for nomination, photograph and an endorsement letter from the highest military authority on the assigned installation, according to the GEICO web page.

The St. Cloud, Fla., native was nominated by his command due to his ongoing contributions to his community and accomplishments while serving as part of the active duty ranks, according to the report submitted for his award.

“Garrison is very active in the community by serving as a volunteer firefighter,” said Lt. Col. Kevin R. Scott, the 2nd Maint. Bn. commanding officer. “It was very easy for us to nominate him for the award because of his character and his commitment to the U.S. Marines Corps and the community.”

The GEICO Military Service Awards Program recognizes service members in the following three areas: drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and traffic safety and accident prevention.

Garrison received the award for his volunteering efforts with the Half Moon Fire Department in Jacksonville, N.C.
During 2010, he responded to more than 107 incidents. His actions included saving the lives of citizens trapped in vehicles and preventing the loss of countless dollars in personal property during major flooding in Jacksonville.

“The Marine Corps is full of outstanding people and we are very fortunate to have Gunnery Sgt. Garrison in our battalion,” Scott said. “When I think about him, I think of a professional who is committed to excellence.”

Garrison also conducted 40 hours of classroom instruction and 80 hours of practical application for volunteers on a quarterly basis. In addition, he was the Rookie Firefighter of the Year for 2010 and Firefighter of the Month in March of the same year.

“The reason why we nominated him for the award is because of his active involvement in his community and the Marine Corps,” explained Capt. Michael Gasperini, the executive officer for 2nd Maint. Bn. “Not only did he do his job during the day as a Marine, but there have been many nights where he would have to go out and respond to a call.”

The application for the award was submitted by the 2nd Maintenance Battalion command in July of 2011 during their deployment to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.

“I had no idea this award even existed,” Garrison explained. “I went to the web page right after I found out to look and see what this award was about.”

Garrison says he is very thankful for the recognition. He also said he will continue his efforts to provide the best service to his community and to the Marine Corps wherever he goes.

“I am very pleased and overwhelmed that the command would pick me out of all the Marines here for this award,” Garrison concluded. “It was a very good surprise when I found out I was receiving it.”