Marines

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Raymond Applewhite (right) receives the Lester Ford Veterans Spirit Award for 2010 from Milt Nieves, retired master sergeant and presenter of the award, during a ceremony at the Naval Hospital, Dec. 14. The award recognizes an individual's continuing efforts to assist active-duty service members and retirees from all branches of the service in the Jacksonville, N.C. community.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Applewhite receives Lester Ford Veterans Spirit Award

5 Jan 2011 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Raymond Applewhite, the public affairs chief for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, was lauded with the Lester Ford Veterans Spirit Award for 2010 during a ceremony at the Naval Hospital, Dec. 14 for his “continuing efforts to assist active-duty service members and retirees from all branches of the service.”

Applewhite was hand-picked out of hundreds of other community members whom aid in military and veteran affairs in Onslow County on a daily basis.

“I feel many in this community who have crossed path with Applewhite would agree with him receiving this prestigious award,” said Milt Nieves, retired master sergeant and presenter of the award. “It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a retired veteran that is so much deserving of this personal award.”

Applewhite, a retired senior chief hospital corpsman, had always excelled in assisting in various community functions while on active duty, and since retiring and joining the ranks of the civil service, he continues to pride himself on community involvement.

Since joining the civil service once he retired from active duty to work at NHCL, one of Applewhite’s first community acts was to become an event coordinator for Onslow County from 1994 to 2001, helping raise three quarters of a million dollars for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

From then on, Applewhite has become involved in dozens of community organizations and the recipient of just as many awards, including the 2009 Outstanding Veteran of the Year for Jacksonville, N.C., the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal by the Naval Hospital in 2005, the Whitey Welbourne civic award by Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in 2003 and most recently was among the top five finalists to be awarded the Heroes at Home Still Serving Awards this past December.

"I feel honored and privileged to have served my country while in the Navy for 22 years and continuing to serve in a civilian capacity since retiring,” said Applewhite. “The men and women that I served with while on active duty, coupled with those that I work with daily, truly make my job enjoyable and worthwhile.”

After retirement and re-joining NHCL as a civil service worker, Applewhite become supervisor of the medical call center. Since then, he was appointed as the hospital’s community relations coordinator and now serves as the hospital public affairs officer and media handler as well as special assistant to the commanding officer.

What is Applewhite’s overall motivation for becoming such a man so deeply involved with the community? As one would expect, one of humility.

“There is no greater feeling than to be a hospital corpsman serving with the Marines, and then to continue to serve the Marines, sailors, retirees and family members in my second career,” said Applewhite, with a tone of content assurance in his voice.

While this may just be another award on the shelf for something he does naturally, the Lester Ford Veterans Spirit Award is a testament to the unrelenting work and community involvement Applewhite has in Onslow County. Serving his community and service members during and after active duty – all in a day’s work.