General, spouse receive O'Malley award

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
  • Air Force News Service
Though dozens of people attended the 2006 General and Mrs. Jerome O'Malley Award ceremony here at the Pentagon Nov. 15, there were four names left off the guest list.

"Dennis, Ivan, Katrina and Rita couldn't be here today," joked Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who presented the award to Maj. Gen. William T. Lord and his wife, Cynthia. "But they definitely played a part in all of this."

The general was referring to the four hurricanes in 2005 that struck the Mississippi Coast and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. At the time, General Lord was commander of the 81st Training Wing.

While the first two hurricanes left little damage, the couple's leadership was severely tested as Hurricane Katrina stormed through, nearly destroying the base.

Together, General Lord and his wife led the initial disaster response and rebuilding effort following the storm's passing, which totaled about $1 billion-worth of damage to the area. General Lord is also credited with leading the largest technical training overhaul in wing history.

For their efforts, the couple was presented the O'Malley Award, which is given annually to an Air Force wing commander and spouse team whose contributions to the nation, Air Force and surrounding community best exemplify the highest ideals and positive leadership of a military couple in a key position.

General Moseley said even without Hurricane Katrina, the couple would still be recipients of the award, given their work for the Keesler AFB community and given that under their leadership, seven base programs were recognized as "Best" in the Air Force or Department of Defense.

"Your work, too, in raising money for charities and scholarships on the base was phenomenal," he said. "This couldn't have been given to a more worthy couple."

General Lord said he and his wife are humbled by the recognition.

"We stand in the shadow of greatness of a great commander and his wife," he said, referring to the awards' namesake, General O'Malley, whose children attended the ceremony. "We also stand in the shadow of the previous couples who've been given this award. This is just part of the Air Force family we all joined."

The award is named after General O'Malley and his wife, Diane, who were killed in a 1985 aircraft crash while en route to a Boy Scout fund-raising banquet in Scranton, Pa. The couple was known for their leadership and contributions to Air Force families and communities.