Thursday, June 28, 2007

Argentine Native Wins US Army Recognition for Giving Back

On June 21, 2007, Ed Rufo, a native of Argentina who has lived in the US for over 30 years, received the US Army’s Community Service Excellence Award at the ACS Director’s Annual Award Dinner held at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort.

The award recognizes "outstanding" individuals and organizations that provide noteworthy volunteer services contributing to the mission of the Army and to the welfare of the Army’s family in their installations, and support the continued dedicated service to soldiers and families.

Ed Rufo, who currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee, is President and CEO of Operation Eagle’s Nest (OEN), a nonprofit whose mission is to raise money to support organizations already set up to assist soldiers and their families. Those organizations include:

Army Emergency Relief (AER)
Chaplains Tithes and Offerings Fund
Operation Helping Hand
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)
Installation Morale Welfare and Recreation Fund (IMWRF)
Family Readiness Center
Family Readiness Groups
Youth Sports
Teen/Youth Programs
Army Family Team Building
Army Family Action Plan
Installation Volunteer Program
Little Soldier Tree
Respite Child Care
AUSA – Association of the United States Army
Fort Campbell Officers Spouses Club Scholarship Fund

“Operation Eagle’s Nest has been a fountain of hope and support for so many families. Ed gives of this personal time to meet returning flights of Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a very great and proud American”, says George Heath, Installation Public Affairs Officer at Fort Campbell.

OEN, now in its fourth year of operation, has facilitated more than $300,000 in donations to soldiers and families of Fort Campbell.

Upon presenting Ed Rufo with his award in Orlando, Delores F. Johnson, US Army National Director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command in Washington D.C., said, “ Mr. Rufo is an invaluable asset to the Fort Campbell Community and to the Army as a whole. Ladies and Gentleman, there are other Ed Rufo’s in every community, all you need to do is go out and find them”.

“It's the dedication of soldiers serving and sacrificing that makes me feel so patriotic”, says Rufo. He's reminded of that every day, especially when he looks at a memorial bracelet given to him recently by Dana Lamberson, a soldier’s widow.

In 2003, at the onset of the Iraq war, Rufo met with other community and business leaders, including then-post commander Gen. David Petraeus, about ways they could support families while the soldiers were away. Many businesses were worried that Army spouses would leave the Fort Campbell area temporarily to go back home like they did in the early 1990s during the first Gulf War. That exodus hit the community and its businesses hard.

The soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and those of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, are known as “Screaming Eagles”. Thanks in part to Operation Eagle Nest and other projects, when about 15,000 soldiers of the 101st left for the Middle East in 2003, most families stayed in Fort Campbell knowing that their nest would be taken care of.

“What an epitome America is, that people from all over can come and truly embrace the strength of the American values”, says Lamberson, “And Ed did just that: he took it and went with it, with the added bonus of his poise, dignity and respect for the American way of life.”

Rufo is also General Manager of James Corlew Automotive Group in Clarksville, and has an extensive history of community service and involvement (please see below).

“I am humbled, honored and excited for such a distinguished recognition”, says Rufo, as he fights back a tear or two. “What a success story about a foreigner who believes in helping others.”

Community Involvements:
- Past Chair, Integrity Institute Foundation, Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee, Inc., 2004 - 2006
- Past Chair, Board of Directors, Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee, Inc., 2005-2006
- Founder, President/CEO of “Operation Eagle’s Nest”, 2003 - Present
- Board of Directors, Fort Campbell Historical Foundation - Wings of Liberty Military Museum 2004-2006
- Clarksville Economic Development Council for the Military Affairs Committee, Member 2001-2007
- Board of Directors, The United Way of Clarksville – Montgomery County, 2001-2006
- Chairman of the Clarksville Athena Award Committee, 2001-2007
- Board of Directors, Clarksville Economic Development Council, Chamber of Commerce 2005-2006
- Board of Directors, Association of United States Army (AUSA), 2005-2006
- Member of the Austin Peay State University Hispanic Cultural Center Advisory Committee 2005-2007
- Past Chairman, Board of Directors, Armed Services USA, YMCA, 2002-2005
- Co-Founder and Spearheaded the Automobile Dealers Business Code of Ethics Program, 2001

Recognitions, Acknowledgments:
- Recipient, US Army Community Service Award for Excellence, 2007
- Recipient, Paul Harris Award, Rotary International for Public Service, 2005
- Recipient, U.S. House of Representatives, Special Congressional Recognition for Public Service, 2005
- Recipient, Secretary of the Army Public Service Award, 2005
- Recipient, Department of the Army Certificate for Patriotic Civilian Service Award, 2004
- Recipient, Artillery Guns Of Glory, 101st Airborne Division Air Assault and Fort Campbell, KY., 2004
- Ambassador of the Year, Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee, 2003
- Recipient, AUSA “Voice of the Army Presidential Award for Excellence”, 2003
- Recipient, “Reverentia Legum Award” in recognition for Ethics in the Marketplace, 2002

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