By Missile Technician Seaman Grant Dauzat, Commander, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs
KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- A crew member of the ballistic missile submarine, USS Maryland (SSBN 738) (Blue), received the American Legion Spirit of Service Award in Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 31.
Missile Technician 3rd Class Thomas M. Lothridge was presented the award for outstanding community service during the American Legion's 92nd National Convention.
The American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans' organization, honors representatives from the five armed services annually for their outstanding military service and active participation during off-duty hours in his or her community.
"Our nation is fortunate to have such dedicated military personnel as Tom Lothridge who represents the very finest our nation has to offer," said Clarence E. Hill, the American Legion National commander, who presented the award. "For both his military and community service, Petty Officer Lothridge is a credit to his uniform and to his country. The American Legion is very, very proud of him."
Lothridge dedicated more than 381 hours of community service since joining the Navy in 2006. His volunteer contributions include working with mentally and physically handicapped children, the Kings Bay Area Special Olympics and a local Ronald McDonald House. He assisted in the construction and renovation of the new wing of Ronald McDonald House, which created housing for 15 underprivileged orphans.
Lothridge coordinated events to support the local educational programs. He spearheaded the successful completion of several projects at Matilda Harris Elementary School by the planning, budgeting, mentoring and directing other volunteers.
Raised in Walland, Tenn., Lothridge attended Heritage High School, where he graduated in 2006. He enlisted in the Navy the in October 2007.
He even organized educational events at the Woodbine Elementary School Fall Festival and found private funding and rallied military personnel support for several stations at the school's field day.
Other efforts included building a Habitat for Humanity home for a less fortunate family in Woodbine, Ga., serving as an adult mentor at a Christian-based retreat for children and coordinating the command's Adopt-A-Highway program.
Lothridge said his work with various schools added to his previous service with the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity.
"Before I started serving at the school, my volunteer hours were kind of limited, and now I'm really helping people to help people," said Lothridge. "Every time I help the kids, I feel great."
Lothridge was shocked when he heard he had been selected to receive the 2010 American Legion Spirit of Service Award.
"I was speechless for about a minute and a half," Lothridge said. "The captain doesn't generally call people on their cell phone, so I was pretty excited. This is such a great honor."