McClendon Receives Special Honor
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is perhaps the only command in the Department of Defense that recognizes its civilians for war-zone service.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, Corps civilians wear the same uniform, endure the same weather, eat the same dust, duck the same mortar rounds, and ride the same convoys as the soldiers they support. Some have been shot at by snipers, caught in firefights, and injured by roadside bombs.
The Corps awards a combat service pin as the civilian equivalent to the combat patch that soldiers wear on their right sleeves.
Gulf Region Division (GRD) began awarding its Civilian Pin for the Combat Service in May 2005, and Afghanistan Engineer District (AED) now has its own. Like GRD, AED modeled its Civilian Combat Service Pin (CCPS) after the district logo.
"The AED combat pin symbolizes the importance we place on our civilian workforce and the value of the civilian service in helping to accomplish our nation's objectives," said AED Commander Col. Christopher Toomey, AED commander. "It honors the contributions of those selfless deployed employees, often unrecognized, who support AED operations under the same or similar conditions as military members, thereby strengthening the unique partnership between the uniformed members and the civilian workforce."
As he conferred the first CCPS to more than 80 employees in late November, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of Engineers, acknowledged the service of civilian volunteers in Operation Enduring Freedom.
"The work you do is vital to rebuilding Afghanistan," said Strock. "I appreciate your taking time away from your families and home districts to voluntarily deploy."
To date nearly 300 Civilian Combat Service Pins of Afghanistan Engineer District have been presented.
Among those, western Hoke County resident Jere Lee McClendon, a prior Civil Service Savannah District Corps of Engineers employee at Fort Bragg, is working with the Afghanistan Engineer District in Bagram in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He shares the goal of helping to ensure the health and well-being of American and other national troops by overseeing the construction of a new hospital on Bagram Air Force Base.
He is married to Wanda J. McClendon, who says her husband is "very proud to be serving his country and supporting our troops as they work to protect and to rebuild Afghan-istan."
Her husband was one of the first deployed Civil Service employees to receive the pin.
The McClendons are the parents of two adult daughters, Teresa Whitehead and her husband, David, of Greensboro; Jennifer Hicks and her husband, Greg, of Columbia, South Carolina. They have one grandson, Toby Allen Hicks, of Columbia, S.C.
McClendon is the son of the late William Edward McClendon Sr., who was retired military, and Victoria L. McClendon, who was retired from the Civil Service at Fort Bragg.
McClendon is a member of Ashley Heights Baptist Church. When he is home, he is an active member of Hoke County Shrine Club, a Mason with ties to the Raeford and the Aberdeen Lodge, and he organized and is active in the Hoke County Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and participates in the Civil War Roundtable meetings in Aberdeen.
This article appeared in the US Army Corps of Engineers publication, "Engineer Update."
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