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GMC announces 2017 Alumni Award Recipients

Georgia Military College alumni and friends met on September 29th and 30th to celebrate Alumni Weekend 2017. One of the highlights of the weekend was honoring a select group of individuals with Georgia Military College Alumni Awards. The recipients of these prestigious awards are selected annually from submitted nominations.

This year’s award recipients are: Dr. George L. Echols, HS 1948, JC 1950 (Distinguished Alumnus Award), Rep. Jody Hice: United States Congressman, Georgia’s 10th Congressional District (Honorary Alumnus Award), LTC James T. Kjer, USA (Ret.), HS 1973 (Alumni Achievement Award), Chad Christian Rogers, JC 1999 (Community Service Award), COL Charles David Sikes, HS 1965, JC 1967 (GMC Service Award). These five extraordinary people are representative of the fine character and countless acts of excellence displayed by the alumni and friends of Georgia Military College. GMC is fortunate to have been a part of the lives of each of these fine people. The contributions of the 2017 Alumni Award recipients have without a doubt made the world a better place.

Distinguished Alumnus Award
Dr. George L. Echols, HS 1948 & JC 1950
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to an alumnus of GMC who has distinguished him/herself in their profession in an outstanding manner, and in so doing has brought honor upon themselves and to GMC. This award is presented for service to humanity and dedication, which have fostered the ideals of GMC. The recipient shall be an individual who, in deed and action, reflects, recognizes and exemplifies GMC and its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” and its regimental accolade, “Character Above All” in both their personal and professional life. The nominee’s interest and loyalty should be evident to the entire GMC community and the GMCAA, and be person of such integrity, stature, demonstrated ability, and distinction that alumni, faculty, staff, and students will take pride in, and be inspired by, their recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient.
 
Dr. George Echols graduated in 1948 from GMC high school and in 1950 from the junior college and is a true friend of GMC.  George attended GMC from first grade through junior college and then Emory University before entering the military as an officer during the Korean War.  Following his service in the U.S. Army he attended the Medical College of Georgia. His distinguished career as a pediatrician began as an intern in Asheville, North Carolina. He later returned to Milledgeville to practice for five years before moving back to Augusta for additional training. In Augusta he established his thriving practice, where he served as chairman of pediatrics at University and St. Joseph’s hospitals and was also appointed Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia.
 
Dr. Echols is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and is a recipient of the President’s Award from the Medical College of Georgia. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics. After many years in Augusta, the Echols moved home to Milledgeville where Dr. Echols served as Medical Director of the Medical Surgical Hospital of Central State Hospital, followed by Medical Director of the Developmental Disabilities Division at Central State Hospital. Dr. Echols also served in the role of Clinical Coordinator for Nursing Home Services at Central State Hospital. Dr. Echols retired from Central State Hospital in April 2000.
 
Georgia Military College has been a part of the lives of Dr. George Echols and his wife, Polly, for more than five decades. For it was on this campus where they first met, and where Polly’s mother, Bettie Zachary Farr, taught Latin, English and history for over 40 years.  To honor Mrs. Farr’s legacy, George and Polly established the Bettie Zachary Farr Scholarship.  The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to a rising GMC Preparatory Junior or Senior who otherwise would not have the opportunity for a GMC education.
 
Dr. Echols has accepted many leadership roles for the school, including chairman for the GMC Promise campaign for a new prep school, president of the GMC Alumni Association, Trustee of The GMC Foundation and Chairman of The GMC Foundation Rules and Nominations Committee. Their full life together has included four children and nine grandchildren. Now retired, the couple remains active in the Milledgeville community. Dedicated to Georgia Military College, they both continue to contribute their talents and treasure for the betterment of this institution and its students.
 
 
Honorary Alumnus Award
Re. Jody Hice: United States Congressman, Georgia's 10th Congressional District 
The Honorary Alumnus Award is given to an individual who is a not an alumnus of Georgia Military College, but who has rendered exceptional and conspicuous service to GMC and the Georgia Military College Alumni Association. This is an exclusive award and will not necessarily be presented each year. The nominees for Honorary Alumni should demonstrate the following criteria:
 
Be a person of such integrity, stature, demonstrated ability and distinction that the faculty, staff, students and alumni of GMC  and the GMCAA will take pride in, and be inspired by, his or her recognition of honorary membership in the GMCAA;
 
Have demonstrated a continuing interest in and/or devotion to GMC, the GMCAA, and in their community and must have contributed time, talent or philanthropic support to one or more programs to benefit GMC and the GMCAA; and
 
The recipient shall be an individual who, in deed and action, reflects, recognizes and exemplifies GMC and its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” and its regimental accolade, “Character Above All” in both their personal and professional life, and whose interest and loyalty are evident to the entire GMC community and the GMCAA.
 
This year we are proud to recognize United States Congressman Jody Hice, of Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, as an Honorary Alumnus of Georgia Military College. Congressman Hice was born in Atlanta and raised in Tucker, Georgia. He graduated from Asbury College, earned his Master’s degree from Southwestern Seminary, as well as a Doctor of Ministry from Luther Rice University. Congressman Hice served as pastor in three Georgia counties for almost 25 years.  Congressman Hice took office in 2015 and serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. For the 115th Congress, he serves as Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
 
During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Hice has been a true friend to our Armed Services, and to those who serve. Ever the servant leader, he daily lives the core values of GMC…Duty, Honor, Country and Character Above All. This servant leadership inevitably brought him to GMC. He quickly developed a strong affinity for our school and the character-based education we espouse. During his tenure in the U.S. House, Congressman Hice has held three military academy days at Georgia Military College, and as a result has introduced GMC to the entire 10th Congressional District. During the past two years, the Congressman has appointed two GMC Preparatory School graduates to the United States Military Academy at West Point. In addition, he has served as a speaker for our preparatory school, Corps of Cadets, the 2016 Milledgeville Junior College graduation, and as recently as last week, our speaker for the Constitution Day Parade.
 
In 2015, Congressman Hice presented two statements on behalf of GMC in Washington, D.C. on the House floor. He congratulated the institution on achieving a 100% graduation rate and exceeding the state and national averages for SAT and ACT score. Congressman Hice also recognized GMC’s 136th anniversary during the session.
 
Alumni Achievement Award
LTC James T. Kjer, USA (Ret.), HS 1973
 
The Alumni Achievement Award is given to an alumnus who by deed, or action, reflects and recognizes the importance of their education at GMC and exemplifies its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” in their personal and professional lives. This alumnus’ interest and loyalty are evident to GMC through their contributions of time, talents, and/or philanthropic support to one or more programs benefitting GMC and/or the GMCAA.  The recipient shall be an individual who, in deed and action, reflects, recognizes and exemplifies GMC and its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” and its regimental accolade, “Character Above All” in both their personal and professional life, and whose interest and loyalty are evident to the entire GMC community and the GMCAA.
 
Jim arrived at Georgia Military College Prep School in August 1968 as an 8th grader with great motivation and a desire to excel.  He shined in all aspect of cadet life at GMC, from academics to athletics. Through his participation in athletics, he was a three sport letterman for three years, and he received numerous dean’s list awards over five years. He was a member of the National Honor Society, and graduated in the top 10% of his high school class with his freshman year in college already completed. At graduation he held the rank of Cadet Second Lieutenant, the highest rank for a high school cadet in 1973.  Jim continued his studies at Georgia College and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army by LTC Oliver at GMC in 1976.
 
His next challenge was as a brand-new Field Artillery 2LT in Lawton, OK for the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course in route to his first assignment in Germany, as a Pershing Missile Officer.  He then was detailed to command a Team as a 1LT, a position normally held by a Captain and for the next 23 years, Jim never looked back.  His assignments included: two FA Battery commands, Battalion S3, Support Brigade Operation’s Officer, General’s Aide and numerous other assignments in Germany, Korea and in the U.S.
 
Upon his retirement from the U.S. Army, Jim and his wife Maggie became more involved in GMC and in the GMC Alumni Association.  In memory of his parents, Jim named the computer lab in Boylan Hall.  Jim has also been a 10-year member of The GMC Foundation with his initial appointment to the Investment Committee by the late Bill Craig, former Chairman of The GMC Foundation.
 
Five years ago, Jim started his latest endeavor to support the GMC Prep School by giving back with a new twist.  Before approaching the Senior Management Team at GMC, Jim started calling classmates with the idea of giving one yearly scholarship to a worthy prep school student to honor his classmates from the 70s era who have passed away. This scholarship, open to prep school students (grade 9-12), was the beginning of the GMC ’73 Scholarship.  The initial intent of the GMC ’73 Scholarship was to be endowed within 5 years and offer one annual $500 scholarship.  Jim’s effort was so successful that the GMC ’73 Scholarship was endowed in 10 months!  This current school year, the GMC ’73 Scholarship will offer scholarships to eight students.  Once the student is awarded the scholarship it is automatically renewed as long as the student continues to meet the scholarship’s criteria. This accomplishment of starting this scholarship in such a short period of time is quite a testimony to Jim’s tenacity, drive and heart for his alma mater.
 
Community Service Award
Chad Christian Rogers, JC 1999
 
The Community Service Award recognizes an alumnus who has demonstrated exemplary community service in the following ways:
Serving in a long-term volunteer capacity;
Having impact on the quality of life of others;
Providing leadership and creativity in dealing with societal problems;
Serving as a source of inspiration for others.
The award is given to a United States citizen, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which GMC strives.  The recipient shall be an individual who, in deed and action, reflects, recognizes and exemplifies GMC and its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” and its regimental accolade, “Character Above All” in both their personal and professional life, and whose interest and loyalty are evident to the entire GMC community and the GMCAA.
 
In January 1997, Chad Rogers enlisted in the Tennessee Army National Guard as an Indirect Fire Infantryman (mortar crew member) with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. While attending Georgia Military College, he transferred to the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized). After graduating from GMC in June 1999, he became an instructor in the Army Reserves and continued his studies in anthropology, history, and museum studies at the University of Tennessee, Carson Newman College, and Tusculum College. In 2009, he was transferred to the 317th Military History Detachment at Fort Gillem, GA, and was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq as part of the 322nd Military History Detachment assigned to the United States Forces Iraq.  His responsibility was to document the 13th and 103d Sustainment Commands and other coalition units, such as U.S. State Department Officials, Iraqi Army and Police during Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
 
Mr. Rogers was medically evacuated in January 2011 to Germany and then to Eisenhower Army Medical Center's Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Gordon, GA, for treatment. In November 2011, he was assigned to the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama for further treatments, recovery, and transition to retirement. After seventeen years of service, he received a medical retirement from active duty as an Infantry Noncommissioned Officer in 2014.
 
Since retiring, he has been far from a man of leisure. He spends his time renovating his circa 1930's house, furthering his academics, writing about military antiques, adding to his extensive collection of antique military uniforms and performing volunteer services. The desire to preserve history has led him to organizations such as The Mossy Creek Foundation and East Tennessee Preservation Alliance. Both of these organizations work to assure that architecture and history are maintained even as the area grows and changes.
 
Mr. Rogers is involved with Club VIBES (Visually Impaired/Blind Enhancement Services), Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, and is the Adjutant for both his American Legion and VFW posts. After the devastating wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN, last year, Mr. Rogers was actively involved in disaster relief efforts through several organizations: The Red Cross, All Hands Volunteers, and Team Rubicon. Mr. Rogers is member of the Civil Air Patrol.  As a guest lecturer for the Blount Scholars and by conducting Staff Rides at local battlefields for local ROTC units, he is able to serve as an example and a mentor to young people.
 
Working as part of the Alumni Board of Directors at Georgia Military College since 2005, has increased his pride and joy in his Alma Mater. Mr. Rogers has also shown his interest loyalty to another Alma Mater, the University of Tennessee, by becoming a part of the advisory board at his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, in 2009. By 2017, he had been appointed Chairman of the Chapter Advisory Board and the President of the local Alumni Association for the fraternity.
 
With continuing loyalty to fallen veterans, in 2009 Mr. Rogers started working with Wreaths Across America (WWA). In 2015, he was given the WWA leadership position over the largest veteran's cemetery in Knoxville. In this position, he is responsible for fundraising, media relations, planning, and execution of the wreath laying event held each year in early December, as well as coordinating the clean up afterward.  With a goal of making sure no Veteran is forgotten at Christmas, Mr. Rogers is busy with the WWA project early fall through January.
 
GMC Service Award
COL Charles David Sikes, HS 1965 & JC 1967
 
The GMC Service Award is designated for alumni or friends of GMC who have rendered special service to the school, or any of its ancillary organizations. All nominees should show evidence of service and loyalty to GMC and their community through demonstrated involvement in campus and community organizations and activities. This award is the highest recognition and greatest expression of appreciation extended to an individual by the GMCAA, given for outstanding service & volunteerism. This is an annual award and may be presented to more than one nominee.
 
The recipient shall be an individual who, in deed and action, reflects, recognizes and exemplifies GMC and its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” and its regimental accolade, “Character Above All” in both their personal and professional life, and whose interest and loyalty are evident to the entire GMC community and the GMCAA.
 
COL Charles D. Sikes attended GMC as a Barracks boarding student from Metter, Georgia. He graduated from GMC high school in 1965 and went on to attend GMC Junior College, where he commanded “E” company and served as the Cadet Battalion Commander. Upon graduation in 1967, COL Sikes received the U.S. Army Superior Cadet Award and the NS Meyer Award Sabre.
 
He was commissioned into the U.S. Army and entered Active Duty in February of 1969. He served in Vietnam from November 1969 until 1970 with USARV in the 593rd General Support Battalion as the MACV1 Compound Commander in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. Sikes returned to Fort Gordon in November 1970 where he served in the 95th Civil Affairs Group until he was released from active duty in April of 1971.
 
Employed for 30 years with the GBI as Special Agent in Charge of the Statesboro Field Office, he also served in the Georgia Army National Guard from 1972-1997, retiring as a Colonel.  During 2008-2013 he served as a MPRI Law Enforcement Professional embedded with US military forces in Iraq & Afghanistan. Upon return he served as the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts in Statesboro from 2013-2014.  He is a graduate of Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, the FBI National Academy and the US Army Command & General Staff Course.
 
In the spring of 2015, COL Sikes established ‘The Sikes Brothers Scholarship’ in honor of his brother and cousins, who also attended GMC in the 1950s, to be given annually to a graduating Georgia Military Prep School senior planning to attend the junior college as a cadet. At his own high school graduation, COL Sikes unexpectedly received a $100 scholarship for good citizenship and respect for authority. That scholarship meant so much to him that he decided to pay it forward and start a scholarship of his own to help a GMC student like himself.
 
COL Sikes has a passion for GMC and engaging others to get involved.  To this end, he was instrumental in the Georgia Board of Public Safety selecting GMC to host their state-wide meeting.  Because of his love for GMC, COL Sikes recently accepted a three-year term as a member of The GMC Foundation.