Three volunteers, valued part of Hill community, receive 20-year plaques

Valued volunteers received plaques at the recent Retiree Appreciation Day held at Hill Air Force Base totalling more than 60 years of service, collectively. The three, Col. (Ret.) Don Pantone, Mrs. Patricia Boykin, and Col. (Ret.) Bob Acres, each received this honor for having more than 20 years of volunteer service in various positions on the base.

During a casual conversational interview with the three conducted on Sept. 8, the trio expressed satisfaction, enjoyment and appreciation for the opportunity to serve.

"When my husband retired from Hill Air Force Base I was working at the Red Cross and then I started working at the Retiree Activities Office.

"It was something I wanted to learn," Boykin said as she described some of the reasons behind her desire to expand her horizons.

Acres described his own motivation behind his years of service as simply an extension of the service he gave as an active duty member who then retired and continued the tradition. "I'm originally from Tennesee, that's The Volunteer State," he said.

Pantone, who serves on the board at the Hill Aerospace Museum, has also continued the tradition of service he attained working as a member of the Reserves.

Both Pantone and Boykin work on the desk at the RAO, a place Boykin notes can really make a difference in people's lives.

"One time I had a retired military member who was so stressed that he decided he wanted to go to the mountains and live alone. At that time he wasn't receiving any mail or actually didn't know what his entitlements were so he came into the office. He was all hairy and not very clean and I thought, 'Oh my, what have I encountered here today,'

She continued, "He came in and told me his story — that he didn't want any mail or contact and he sat down in a chair and he said, 'Tell me, Patricia, what are my entitlements right now.' So I filled him in on what was going on and brought him up to date on all the new progress. At the time he retired we didn't even have Delta Dental — he didn't even know about Tricare for life (insurance benefits) or any of the entitlements that he had."

When asked if he ever checked back in with her, she said he hadn't returned, but that she had been able to give him all the information he needed to potentially greatly enhance his life situation. Looking back on the situation it gave her great "job satisfaction" to be able to make an impact on people's lives.

As she and Pantone talked about their work on the RAO desk they recalled that Acres actually helped set the foundation for the program. "Weren't you at the helm, when it started?" they asked him.

Acres acknowledged that he had spent some time there, but that it was when "everything started — back when they began the Airman and Family Readiness Center."

He now volunteers at the pharmacy handing out prescriptions to everyone who comes in once the technicians there fill the orders. "In case patients have a question, the pharmacy techs are there to back us up."

Boykin points out the difference that the RAO makes after comparing notes about some of their previous work. "We've had spouses a lot of times, who've had a death in the family and are grieving. They don't know what direction to go. They're understandably very upset and we help them with all of their entitlements," she said. "If we don't know the answer, we'll find it."

The combined experience of these three involves work from a little of everything, from the chapel which is very busy said Boykin, to the pharmacy, the museum, and prior work experience that all have helped to make Hill Air Force Base the significant, regional support installation it is today.

Volunteering helps keep people getting up and contributing in a structured way, the three concur, and even keeps some of the really active retirees hopping.

Hill leaders thanked these three volunteers for their substantial contributions with sincere thanks at the Retiree Appreciation Day events where Col. Calvin Williams, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander, gave them their official plaques noting their years of service.

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