2nd Annual Gala

 

Committee/Community of 100 Honorees
Ben Bradberry, President, Arlington Dental Center
Maurice Grier, General Manager, Burris Refrigerated Logistics
Steve Gibson, Regional Vice President, Burris Refrigerated Logistics
Michael O’Leary, President, The Grimes Companies
Jim Borngesser, President and CEO, Family Focused Healthcare
Reese Edwards, Senior Chaplain, Orange Park Medical Clinic
Edgardo Pabon, Production Supervisor, Safariland
Gary Jordan, Maintenance Technician, Saft America
Aaron Maurer, Engineering Technician, Saft America
Karla Velilla, Director Business Intelligence, U2Cloud
Ray Lewis, Machinist, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute
Dia’na Perez-Pyles, Hispanic Community Liaison, Vitas Health Care
Patrick Hall, Asst. General Manager, Wal-Mart Distribution
William Price, Maintenance Area Manager, Wal-Mart Distribution
Robin (Rob) Hastings, RCM Team Lead, Wyle Aerospace Group
Special Honorees
Marie Collins, WWII Veteran Brookdale Atrium
Bill Brewton, Korean War Veteran Brookdale Atrium
Col. William G. Byrns, Viet Nam War Veteran, POW

Honoree Biographical Sketches…

Ben Bradberry, President, Arlington Dental Center
Ben Bradberry
Ben joined the navy in June, 1955 at age 17 after graduating high school. Ben scored high on basic battery tests, so he was sent through a series of technical schools for the better part of his first year. He went to a “radar barrier” squadron as an aircrewman and radar operator. He then flew the large 4 engined, long range radar equipped Super Constellation aircraft from Argentina, Newfoundland down to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal and back, as a radar barrier against any Russian planes that wanted to nuke the USA. This flight took 16 hours and he did this every three days. When he was then transferred down to Jacksonville to the Hurricane Hunter squadron, flying the same planes with the same radar, but this time tracking hurricanes.
After he had completed his 3 1/2 year hitch as an enlisted man, the officers he had worked for arranged for him to go over to Pensacola, FL to the Navy Flight Training Program. After 2 years he then graduated as a pilot and Navy officer.
He served in various assignments over the next several years, including deployments aboard aircraft carriers, in anti-submarine helicopter squadrons. He trained and drilled on how to detect and sink Russian submarines. As a helicopter pilot, he also participated in picking up 4 sets of astronauts from the sea after their return from space, once after their return from the moon.
Ben spent a year in Viet Nam in 1970/71 as a Huey helicopter pilot and was awarded the combat air medal.
From Viet Nam, I went to the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, California and got a BS/BA college degree in Political Science and International Relations with a minor in Physics. I was on the Dean’s List throughout and graduated near the top of my class.Came back to Jacksonville to a sea going helicopter squadron.
Retired in 1977 after 21 years in the Navy.. Ben has been nominated because the Arlington Dental Clinic actively supports veterans in the Arlington Community and in Jacksonville. He has been an active supporter of the National Association of Veterans and Families. He has a unique insight into Viet Nam and that insight can be found in several of his writings.

Maurice Grier, GM, Burris Refrigerated Logistics
Maurice GrierMaurice has been nominated for his endless work at Burris supporting the veteran community, both at work and in the community. He has been an avid supporter of the National Association of Veterans and Families as well as other veteran causes in the Jacksonville community. His company gives hiring preferences to veterans. He is the General Manager of Burris Refrigerated Logistics in Jacksonville and previously he served as the Plant Manager for Atlas Cold Storage.

 

Steve Gibson, Regional Vice President, Burris Refrigerated Logistics
Steve GibsonSteve is nominated for he is a Champion of veterans and their causes though out the state of Florida where he serves as the Regional Vice President of Burris Refrigerated Logistics. He is an active supporter of the National Association of Veterans and Families and is proud of his two sons who served their country in the Army and Marine Corp. His company gives preferential treatment to the hiring and promoting of veterans.

 

 

Michael O’Leary, President, The Grimes Companies
Michael O’LearySince Michael O’Leary began leading The Grimes Companies, which specializes in logistics and supply chain management services, the size of its fleet has tripled and the company has experienced monumental growth. Before he was leading one of Jacksonville’s top 3PL logistics companies, O’Leary was a US Army veteran. O’Leary served in the military for over six on active duty and the reserves. O’Leary said his time in the military has helped him in his current role by instilling a strong work ethic and ability to focus on doing the right thing. O’Leary’s notable service and leadership in both a military and business environment led the Jacksonville Business Journal to honor him as one of Jacksonville’s “Veterans of Influence” in 2015. O’Leary says he was honored to serve as an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, modestly noting that his military service took place during a relatively peaceful time in the world. “My service was not anything that I would remotely compare to anybody who has served in the last 15 years,” O’Leary stated. “I think my time in the military shaped most of my adult decision making,” he said. “The military lent a sense of discipline in me that has carried through everything I’ve done since.”

Jim Borngesser, President and CEO, Family Focused Healthcare
Jim BorngesserWe are nominating James Borngesser, the President and owner of Family Focused Home Health Care, for the Champions of Veterans Gala. Although not a veteran, he strongly advocates for the military men and women of our country, going above and beyond to bring aid to Veterans in the Jacksonville area, both through special programs at Family Focused and connecting families with the National Association of Veterans and Families. Jim’s passion for helping Veterans has always been strong and only increased when his daughter became a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in 2014.
It was during his battle with cancer in 2013 that Jim realized his aspiration to run his own, unique home health care agency. While undergoing treatment, he received visits from a home health aide. Having someone come in to assist him with day to day activities allowed his wife, Anne, the time and energy to provide the essential emotional support to get through this challenging time.
Shortly thereafter, Jim launched Family Focused Home Health Care. Just as the name implies, his company focuses not only on providing excellent care to the patient, but also incorporating their family. With his sales and marketing background, he is recognized for constructing and leading high performing teams and solving needs to build businesses and brands. He brings those skills to Family Focused by constantly thinking outside of the box for ways to improve the experiences that families have with our agency, including Centergy Care and creating partnerships, such as that with NAVF, Eldersource, Council on Aging and Aging True.

Reese Edwards, Senior Chaplain, Orange Park Medical Clinic
Reese EdwardsI am nominating Mr. Reese because he should be the poster child for the Champion of Veterans. Mr. Reese is the Senior Chaplain at the hospital. His compassion and empathy for the folks that require his services is exemplary.
I am the Director of Security at the hospital so I have had numerous occasions to work with Mr. Reese. Recently, we had a young patient that attempted suicide by shooting himself. It was learned that he was an active-duty Marine. Needless to say, Mr. Reese was with the family non-stop for several days. He assisted them during their time of grief and provided comfort for them while they considered their tough decisions regarding the patient.

I can give countless other stories of Mr. Reese’s tireless and professional efforts while representing the hospital. He is well deserving of this honor but I know he will say that he is just doing what the Lord called him to do. Reese served in the US Air Force and retired after 20 years.

Edgardo Pabon, Production Supervisor, Safariland
Edgardo PabonEdgardo Pabon served in the United States Navy, for 22 years, as a Culinary Specialist. He first joined Safariland in 2014 as a Production Associate. Due to his passion and eagerness to learn, he was assigned to travel to another plant and learn the assembly of line of products to be transferred here to the Jacksonville plant. As soon as the equipment arrived in Jacksonville, Edgardo played a key role in directing and leading other associates. He drove through roadblocks and became a product champion. By the end of the first week, product was shipping to customers.
As a result of his natural leadership ability and pride in everything he does, Edgardo has been promoted twice, first to Team Lead, then to Production Supervisor. He now leads a team of Production Associates in Safariland’s Hard Armor area.

Gary Jordan, Maintenance Technician, Saft America
Gary JordanGary is an Army veteran serving from 1988 – 1991. Gary gives us countless hours of scheduled and unscheduled days to assist in keeping all areas of the plant in running condition. Gary has taken time to educate operators on troubleshooting simple equipment issues in order to make them self-sufficient at their job. Gary will work relentlessly to solve a problem with suggestions and feedback from the operators which is very greatly appreciated. Gary always carries a positive attitude in such a demanding position as a Maintenance Technician and he is a valuable asset to our Saft team.

 

Aaron Maurer, Engineering Technician, Saft America
Aaron MaurerAaron is a Coast Guard veteran serving from 2002 – 2010. He has been an asset to the Saft team especially in starting up our truck & bus battery assembly line. Many times we call him “McGiver” because of the tools/resources he builds to help the Operators do their jobs more efficiently. He maintains a level of professionalism and is loyal to Saft and to his country. Everyday Aaron reports to the line and asks the team, “What can I do today to help us make things better.”

 

Karla Velilla, Director Business Intelligence, U2Cloud
Karla VelillaKarla Velilla is an experienced IT professional and a decorated service member of the U.S. Navy. In her capacity as Director of Marketing & External Communications at U2 Cloud, Karla functions in a wide variety of arenas, including on-boarding new clients, coordination and management of the U2 Cloud website and oversight of U2 Cloud’s social media visibility and market outreach.
While on active duty, Velilla developed and modified training needs for more than 400 squadron personnel, as well as monitored their progress, resulting in an increase of operational readiness of 20%. She supported and managed personnel files, as well as training and implementation initiatives used to track more than 98-missions, and also manually updated more than 350 electronic job descriptions for more than 450 Navy personnel. In the area of Quality Assurance, Velilla ensured the proper auditing of 12 different departments and their workflow procedures, to ensure compliance with military and federal government rules and regulations. Her Navy work also included the implementation of cross-training and internal recruitment of senior team members with enhanced knowledge of online training capabilities, to further improve efficiency and productivity, resulting in smoother transition and deployment of Naval personnel, both at home and overseas. During her service, Velilla received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2013) and a Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt Certification. Karla is now in the Navy Reserves and volunteers with NAVF.

Ray Lewis, Machinist, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute
Ray LewisRay joined the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute staff as one of its first employees, after retiring in 2005 from a 20-year career in the Navy. “I’m what you call a conventional machinist. Lathe, milling machines, shaping machines, boring mills, grinders. Typical machines you would find in a good size machine shop,” said Ray. He planned from the beginning to make this a job he could stay with until he retires from civilian work. “I love the job. I remember when I came in and did the interview I told Dr. Li [Zuefong Li, DSc, director of medical physics], like a lot of military people, I commit and stick with it.”

Evidence of his level of commitment started from day one. Ray recalled, “I started on the seventh of August and the following week was when they were going to treat the first patient. When I started and we were doing orientation in the Tower [a separate building from the proton therapy institute], they called me out of the orientation to fabricate the device for the first patient.” He willingly left orientation and made the devices that would be used to treat the first patient on August 14, 2006. From that point forward he has milled countless devices for hundreds of patients.

During his nine years at the institute, Ray has gained the admiration and respect of everyone he works with. He has been nominated for the UFHPTI Shining Star Award, a peer-recognition program at the institute for employees who exemplify excellence.

Jeff Rexford is the site manager for IBA, the manufacturer of the proton therapy equipment. Jeff and his team are responsible for running and maintaining the proton therapy system. Jeff said, “I have known Ray since I first began working for IBA in January of 2007. In that time I have had the pleasure of working closely with him on many technical projects. Ray has taken his position to something much higher than a normal machinist’s position. He has shown great inventiveness and dedication to improve many aspects of the machining process. Ray’s dedication and professional expertise has driven a few important improvements to the development of patient plans. It is with Ray’s knowledge that we will also increase the efficiency of the in-house fabrication, and reduce the outsourcing of patient specific devices.”

Ray is known for going above and beyond the call of duty. He says it is because he enjoys the work. “As with most places what makes it enjoyable it’s usually the people that you work with. The people I interact with, the dosimetrists, the quality assurance people, the physicists, I haven’t really had a bad experience with any of these people. Basically, they let me do my job. I know what my job is and they allow me to do it, and I like that,” Ray said.

The chief dosimetrist Debbie Louis oversees the department that uses computers to design and program the treatment plans. These are then transferred to the machine shop to create the devices.

Debbie said, “Ray is always willing to adjust his work schedule to accommodate clinic needs, even at the last minute and always with a smile.
If he says he can get something done, you can be sure it will be done. Ray is a pleasure to work with and a real asset to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and our patients.”
As the senior-level machinist, he is often called upon to make the more complex patient-specific devices. Even on his days off and vacation days, Ray willingly comes in to help if needed. Holly Mostoller is the human resources director and recalled one such occasion, “On August 8, 2014 in the early morning Dr. Hunter was in need of having new apertures made for an eye patient. The machinist on duty that day did not start until the later afternoon and Ray was on vacation. I was unable to reach the on-duty machinist first and then reluctantly called Ray to see if he would be willing to come in to quickly produce the equipment for Dr. Hunter so the patient could start treatment right away. Ray gladly agreed and came right in and completed the process allowing the patient to start. All on his last day of vacation and right before the weekend. Ray is a very dedicated employee who helped out in a time of need when it was not required of him.

“I have personally always found Ray to have the most positive attitude everyday he comes to work. He is exceptionally loyal to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and very passionate about the cancer treatment we deliver here,” said Holly.

Ray’s military service spanned a period that included several significant historic events. He remembers in 1991 transporting and loading ammo on submarines to support Operation Desert Storm. He was at Guantanamo Bay when the mass migration from Cuba and Haiti in 1994 occurred and the whole island was covered in tents and camps as people sought asylum in the U.S. In 2001 he volunteered to do a second tour at Guantanamo in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. An old friend of his had returned there working at the brig and he needed some people to help. So Ray volunteered and served as Assistant Brig Officer in Charge, including a six-month stint as Officer in Charge while waiting for a replacement due to personnel retirement. He stayed there until 2005 when he retired as a Petty Officer First Class after 20 years of Navy service.

Ray settled down in Jacksonville, FL, where he had purchased a home while he was stationed at Mayport (1998-2001). During his time in Guantanamo Bay, he formed many close friendships, people who have also retired from the Navy and settled in Jacksonville. His best friend still lives in Guantanamo, a Cuban exile and his wife who live on the base. His best friend has cancer, and Ray helps by sending essential medical supplies. “I’m always anxious when I take the medicine to the base for shipment. I worry about missing the transport. He needs it to keep alive,” Ray said.

It’s the ultimate care package from a man who always goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Dia’na Perez-Pyles, Hispanic Community Liaison, Vitas Health Care
Dia’na Perez-PylesDia’na Perez-Pyles works tirelessly to assist Veterans and families in getting access to Healthcare in the Greater Jacksonville area. Dia’na works closely with the St. John’s County COA and Clay County to educate and service the Veterans in gaining access to their benefits. She is a valued employee at Vitas Healthcare and works hard to assist the Hispanic and veteran communities in the greater Jacksonville area. Dia`na served 2 years in the Marine Corps.

 

 

Patrick Hall, Asst. General Manager, Wal-Mart Distribution
Patrick HallPatrick began his military service with his appointment and attendace at the US ARMY service academy, West Point from 2002 till 2006. Upon Graduation, he served in the Army for just under 7 years serving in the Aviation Branch. He spent the majority of his time at Fort Bragg, North Carolina flying UH-60 Blackhawks while deploying 2-times to Kandahar, Afghanistan and Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Upon leaving the US ARMY, Patrick began his employment with Walmart logistics at DC 6055 in Monroe Georgia. While working there he was selected to lead the Walmart Southeast Military Recruiting Program (9 Distribution Centers); developed Standard Operating Manual to determine strong candidate pool resulting in the hiring of over 12 Veterans. Since his arrival at DC 6099, Patrick continues to work with Wal-Mart recruitment of Military Veterans by attending and recruiting of military veterans within the South East region of the US. Patrick is proud of his service to the military and continues to champion the hiring and support of our US military veterans.

William Price, Maintenance Area Manager, Wal-Mart Distribution
William PriceScott (William) served in the US ARMY for over 16 years and displays the characteristics of a Armed Forces veteran in his actions to this day. He still continues to “serve” from the way he relates and work with people every day. He can be counted on to be the first to volunteer for any event we do to support the veterans and has the lead the way on our internal veterans recognition celebrations within our DC. Scott is a PROUD AMERICAN first and VETERAN next. His belief of what makes America strong are the people that call America home and those willing to defend AMERICA and the freedoms that we enjoy. Even though he has markings on his truck identifying him as a US ARMY VETERAN, one can really just look at the man himself and know that he is a PROUD VETERAN and continues to “serve” by his actions and deeds.

Robin (Rob) Hastings, RCM Team Lead, Wyle Aerospace Group
Robin (Rob) HastingsI would like to nominate Rob Hastings as a Veteran Honoree for his outstanding performance in serving our nation’s men and women in uniform, his co-workers, and our community as a Team Lead and community outreach coordinator for Wyle, a leading provider of specialized engineering, professional, scientific, and technical services to the federal government. As Rob’s manager at Wyle I see his exemplary service and dedication demonstrated every day.
Rob is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander who didn’t stop serving his country when he decided to take the uniform off after 29 years. He and his Wyle team perform analyses that streamline the maintenance U.S. warfighters perform to keep aircraft and vehicles in the fight. His dedication to the men and women on the ‘tip of the spear’ is second to none.
Rob also leads community outreach efforts for Wyle in Orange Park. He works tirelessly all year long to raise money for charitable events that Wyle’s Orange Park office supports. Working closely with the Clothes Closet Food Pantry to provide meals for veterans and the less fortunate over the past several years, Rob has organized the purchase of food and everything needed for families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This past year alone he led the local Wyle team in delivering 150 whole turkeys, 400 lbs. of potatoes, 200 lbs. of onions, 150 packs of gravy, 200 quart packs of powdered milk, and 150 boxes of stuffing, as well as an additional 80 turkeys and accompaniments for Christmas dinners.
During 2015 Rob also coordinated Wyle’s participation in the Salvation Army’s Forgotten Angels program which provides Christmas gifts for children whose families have proven financial hardship. He and 36 Wyle employees were able to raise money for 67 gifts given to children who otherwise wouldn’t have received anything for Christmas. In addition to these efforts Rob also has raised money for K-9 for Warriors, the Quigley House, and Challenge Enterprises in the past year.
Rob has been an outstanding Wyle employee, Veteran, and ambassador to the community. His service to our country continues as he makes a difference in the lives of many people across the globe and right here at home in Clay and Duval counties. Rob is most deserving of being honored with the Champion of Veterans Award as a Veteran making a difference by doing the right thing as he serves our nation’s men and women in uniform, other veterans, his co-workers, and our community.