Back to News Front

Jaimie Garrett presented with the Bryce Lilly Service Award

Honorary Air Force

Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd AW commander, presents Jaimie Garrett with the Bryce Lilly Service Award with guest speaker Frank Staine-Pyne, center, and Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Drake, 62nd AW command chief. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Tim Chacon/62nd AW PA

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

When Jaimie Garrett attended McChord Field's Annual Awards Banquet on March 6, she thought she was attending simply as a longtime supporter of the military and honorary commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing Operations Group, 10th Airlift Squadron.

Turns out, she was one of several servicemembers and civilians being honored during the event. Garrett, senior loan officer for Caliber Home Loans in Tacoma, was selected as this year's Bryce Lilly Service Award recipient.

"I was totally shocked," Garrett said. "I had no idea."

The award, given annually at the discretion of McChord's wing commander to a military member, civilian employee, local business leader, community supporter or anyone directly involved in enhancing the quality of the military community at McChord Field, was the last presentation of the evening.

"It was at the very end of the dinner, and they had announced all the other awards and started to describe the Bryce Lilly award," Garrett recalled. "Then all of the sudden, they said, ‘This year, it goes to an honorary wing commander,' ... and they started saying more things, and I said, ‘Oh my God, that's me!' I just knew by some of the things they said. Yeah, I was shocked."

Garrett, who has served as an honorary commander of the 10th AS for several years, was selected this year because "she was the one who stood out," said Carlene Joseph, vice president for community development at Harborstone Credit Union as well as the president of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Meriwether Lewis Chapter and current vice president/president elect of the McChord Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA).

"She's there when they need her, whenever they have an event. She helps them put things together, and she's a very good fundraiser," Joseph said.

Since becoming an honorary commander for the 10th AS a few years ago, Garrett has been "present in every major event the squadron has had," said Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, 10th AS commander. From pre-deployment support, taking part in monthly potlucks, supporting the squadron's golf tournaments and attending ceremonies where 10th AS members are being recognized, "she's always there, always supportive, and truly an incredibly committed honorary commander," he said.

Garrett, a Steilacoom native and graduate of Lakes High School, has been an active volunteer in the community for years. Her two sons, ages 26 and 27, graduated from SHS, and she still volunteers there. She's also the career technical education chairman for the Steilacoom Historical School District and one of the founding members of the Steilacoom Historical Education Foundation (SHEF).

She began to volunteer with the military in the 1990s when Joseph asked her if she wanted " to come out to the base and get active in the military," Garrett recalled.

She started small, volunteering on McChord with the officers' wives' club and helping with scholarships.

"It just snowballed from there," she said. "I started going to more and more events, and I just loved it."

After several years volunteering with the Air Force, she began volunteering with the Army when McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis became Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2010. As president of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Lakewood subchapter, Garrett was integral in raising money for a redeployment celebration for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

"I did that presidency for a year, and when the 4th Stryker Brigade's colors were uncased, I said to Carlene, ‘It isn't that I don't love the Army. It's just so big and so overwhelming. I don't get to know the people. I want something smaller.' Carlene said, ‘How about you come back over to the Air Force.'"

So that's what she did - and she went from having 4,000 soldiers in one brigade to about 170 Airmen in the 10th AS.

"It's manageable," Garrett said. "This group is so tight knit ... I try to do what I can to let them know that the community supports them. Most of the time these are really young kids away from their families for the first time, and we want them to feel better about being away from their family, knowing that they have somewhere to go.

"I like to take care of their families, too," she added, "because those families serve just as much as their spouses do. They stay home without a spouse taking care of everything so that they can keep their minds on being safe."

Garrett is inspired to give back in part by her grandfather, an Air Force colonel who retired in the 1970s.

"He said, ‘You need to give back to our military community,'" she said."I think he was way ahead of his time ... he was a key influence for me in volunteering."

And while she is honored to receive this year's Bryce Lilly Service Award, she doesn't do it for the accolades.

"I don't volunteer for awards," she said. "It's just who I am and what I love doing."

Read next close


Veterans talk transition at TEDx Tacoma

comments powered by Disqus