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Squadron commander receives Nebraska Admiralship

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ken Scholz
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
A special ceremony for Maj. Dana McCown's promotion to lieutenant colonel Nov. 24 became much more as Nebraska first lady Sally Ganem took to the podium during the ceremony..

The wife of Nebraska governor Dave Heineman bestowed Colonel McCown with an Admiralship in the Great Navy of Nebraska for the colonel's personal commitment to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization.

"It is truly an honor and a privilege to present this award to Dana McCown," said Ms. Ganem.

The award, Nebraska's highest honor, carries with it no real military title, pay or duties, but is an honorary title bestowed by the governor to those who have benefitted the state.  The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to help the citizens of Nebraska, said Ms. Ganem.

Sim Reynolds, executive director of MADD Nebraska, said Colonel McCown attended a MADD training program about a year ago. Since then, Ms. Reynolds said, the colonel has brought passion, leadership and spirit to the organization and her talks have helped educate thousands about the dangers of drunk driving.

In June 2007, Colonel McCown and her sister, Michele Pennington, lost their mother and father in a drunk driving accident in Florida.

"It was a year plus, when I later joined MADD," the colonel said. "MADD Nebraska took us in as family, hey were sincere in their empathy and caring."

"Dana McCown is success," said the colonel's long-time mentor and friend Maj. Gen. Polly Peyer, commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "She's sincere, understanding, caring; she communicates, has experience, sets the standard and shares."

Colonel McCown has participated in numerous victim impact panels, fundraisers and family events, as well as shared her experience through locally televised public service announcements.

"Sometimes volunteers don't get the recognition they deserve," Ms. Ganem said, "but because of the impact Dana's had on the citizens of Nebraska with her involvement with MADD, we wanted to make sure she was recognized."

The new lieutenant colonel, a Bowling Green, Ky., native, entered the Air Force more than 22 years ago as an enlisted Airman. She was recently appointed chairwoman of the executive state operations council of MADD Nebraska and now has joined the prestigious ranks of the Nebraska Admiralty as well.

"I feel like I've gotten so much more out of MADD than what I've given," Colonel McCown said.