One of the United States Air Force's core values is "service before self." Even after 21 years of service, retired MSgt Gordon Storey continues to embody that core value.
Fourteen years ago, Gordon created the Dyess We Care Team - a non-profit organization that does a wide range of community service projects - when he felt something in the Air Force was just missing.
"i saw there was a need for leadership development because, you know, we were getting so busy with the ops tempo being so high and doing more with less that we really weren't spending that informal, quality time with our troops," Storey said.
The Dyess We Care Team averages about 600 volunteers a year, mostly servicemen and women.
While the intention is to serve the community, the airmen are served, as well.
"The airmen serve the community and in return, they're getting an opportunity," Storey said.
"Once you get these airmen involved with the community, they're like, 'Oh-ho! I don't have the mountains, I don't have the lakes, I'm not snow-skiing, but I have this wonderful resource in the community,'" Storey said.
SrA John Tomsich, a Dyess We Care Team volunteer, agreed.
"It helps airmen when they want to come off base instead of sitting in their dorm room, not doing anything, playing video games," Tomsich said.
"Through the community service, we help to teach the airmen at Dyess leadership principles, communication, delegation, alottment for the supplies, the materials, how to motivate and you know, all the things that the military will expect later on, they get to practice on the small scale," Storey said.
"It gives them the opportunity to go outside and learn a skill that they will take with them for the rest of their lives," said Tomsich.
Under Gordon's direction, the Dyess We Care Team does home repairs, builds wheelchair ramps, helps with Meals on Wheels, Thanksgiving dinners, car washes to raise funds for other organizations...the list goes on and on.
And just like any branch of the United States Armed Forces, they go big or go home; if they see a need, they fill it.
"That's kinda fun, too, when you're like, 'Yes, we will put in this small wheelchair ramp so you can get to your front door or we will replace these dry, rotted board. How do you feel about us painting your house?,'' Storey said.
Gordon facilitates two to three service projects a month, mostly on the weekends, and an average of 6,000 service hours a year, all while being a full-time student at McMurry University, owing his own business and serving as a guardian for the Friends for Life organization.
But if you ask him why he deserves this award, he's not quick to brag.
"Honestly, I don't think there's anything that I do that makes me a volunteer of the year," Storey said. "I just think, I feel it's what everyone needs to do and should do."
His airmen, though, beg to differ.
"He's done so much, not only for the community," said A1C Steven Vermillion. "He's made us as airmen, as followers, so much more than we normally would get. Every day we're out there building or we're mowing lawns even, just the small tasks, he's able to lead us and inspire us, so much more than I've ever experienced."
In addition to "service before self," there's two more core value of the United States Air Force: integrity first and excellence in all we do.
As a volunteer in Abilene, Gordon Storey exemplifies all three.
To learn more about the Dyess We Care Team, click here.