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Maxwell team member named JAG Corps’ ‘Unsung Hero’

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- One Friday, Col. Melinda Davis-Perritano asked her equipment and facility manager if the unit had any paint the same color as her door. He said he would try to find some. On Monday, when she returned, she found her door and trim freshly painted -- and already dry.

That incident, said Colonel Davis-Perritano, who leads the Legal Information Services Directorate of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, epitomizes why she nominated Booker T. Dillard for the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps' Olan G. Waldrop Unsung Hero Award. Mr. Dillard received the award in October at the JAG Corps' annual Keystone Leadership Summit in Florida.

The award, presented by The Judge Advocate General based on the recommendations of JAG Corps personnel, is named after Montgomery resident and retired Brig. Gen. Olan G. Waldrop Jr. The award recognizes individuals -- judge advocate, paralegal or civilian -- who demonstrate selfless devotion to their duties, support to others and dedication to the JAG Corps, with no regard for recognition.

Colonel Davis-Perritano said she nominated Mr. Dillard because he "continually demonstrates that success is achievable without public recognition and that a true unsung hero is a person who inspires and motivates others, shows one person can make a difference and, no matter what the circumstances are, always provides a helping hand."

She pointed to a long list of selfless contributions by Mr. Dillard to the Air Force and the community that include:

- When the Judge Advocate General School completed its move to a new building on a Friday afternoon in 2006, the inside temperature was 85 degrees. Fans were miraculously in place for all employees first thing on the following Monday morning, thanks to Mr. Dillard.

- He comes into the office on weekends to stock the break room snack bar and refrigerator and makes coffee every day. Anytime an office function requires cooking food, Dillard is always in charge.

- After two JAS Airmen -- one a single mother -- deployed, Dillard mowed their yards. Similarly, he dedicated a Saturday and his truck to helping another employee with a short-notice move.

- He initiated and organized JAS employees' participation in the local Meals on Wheels program.

Mr. Dillard, who retired in 2002 as a master sergeant, entered the Air Force in 1978 and performed duties that included general administrative support, command center battle staff support, desktop computer support and local area network help desk management. Colonel Davis-Perritano said Mr. Dilliard took the Air Force core values to heart during his career, noting that during one assignment to Japan, he organized Japanese language courses for all unit members and their families.

Colonel Davis-Perritano's predecessor, Col. Peter Marksteiner, recalled the lasting impression Mr. Dillard made on him.

"Upon my arrival to JAS in 2006, I was introduced to Booker as the 'guy who can get stuff done.' I immediately recognized a slightly older version of a kind and generous NCO who helped smooth my entry into the Air Force ROTC program at Florida State University some 20 years ago."

Mr. Dillard, who joined JAS in 2002 as an administrative support technician, now serves as the unit equipment control officer responsible for all local Automated Data Processing Equipment, unit supplies and for the configuration, maintenance and upgrade of deployment kits. He earned his CCAF associate's degree in Information Resources Management in 1996 and his bachelor's degree in Resource Management from Troy State University-Montgomery in 2001.

He and his wife, Mary, have three children and six grandchildren. Because the award was to be a surprise, Mary played a key role in convincing him to attend the conference in Florida when he wanted to just stay behind and do his job, Colonel Davis-Perritano said.

The award's namesake, General Waldrop, received the inaugural award at the 2005 Keystone Leadership Summit. He retired in 1999 as the staff judge advocate for AFMC after 31 years of service and has served as president of the Montgomery chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Air Force JAG School Foundation.