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News | Oct. 13, 2006

President recognizes Langley volunteer

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

When Leah Hunkins got a call from the White House Oct. 3, telling her she had been nominated for the President's Call to Service award, she was happy. 

When they called two days later and told her she could pick up her award from the President of the United States that Saturday, she was floored. 

"I don't think it's quite hit me yet," she said. 

Mrs. Hunkins, wife of the 1st Civil Engineer Squadron's Master Sgt. Gary Hunkins, has been volunteering since she was a little girl, but never thought it would lead to a face-to-face meeting with President George W. Bush. 

"I was very excited," she said. "It was awesome meeting him, to be able to look him in the eyeball and tell him how I feel about the great job he's doing. I told him, 'Thank you for defending our country.'" 

The Call to Service award is awarded to volunteers who have donated more than 4,000 hours of their time across their lifetime. Mrs. Hunkins, who has worked with Langley Airman and Family Readiness Center and helped start Langley's Heart Link program, received the pin from Mr. Bush when he landed at Langley to attend the christening of an aircraft carrier named for his father, President George H. W. Bush. 

"It's a huge, huge honor," she said. "I'm eternally grateful. I'm one of many who volunteer. I like to think this is an honor we all share." 

Mrs. Hunkins received the award pin, a citation, an autographed photo of herself with the president and a tour of Air Force One. She said the tour was the highlight for her children. 

"They got to sit in the cockpit," she said. "It was out of this world." 

Mrs. Hunkins said she encourages everyone to volunteer, even if only for a short time.
"If you can only give five minutes of your time, give it," she said. "It comes back again to you ten-fold." 

For more information about presidential service awards, go to http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.
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