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News | Feb. 27, 2022

JBAB Command Team recognizes 11th Wing Volunteer of the Year

By Anastazia Clouting Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

In honor of Black History Month, the DoD showcases the contributions and achievements by Black Americans and recognizes the positive impact they have had on the history of the United States and the Defense Department.
 
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damien Sawyer, 11th Security Force Squadron NCO in charge of the Joint Visitor Center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., has been acknowledged for his service outside the fence line and across the country.
 
Every year, the 11th Wing highlights the contributions of exceptional Airmen through its annual award program and selected Sawyer as the base’s standout volunteer of the year for the generosity and broad scope of his efforts to empower disadvantaged children and families.
 
From a young age, Sawyer was drawn to serving others, and mentorship enabled him to see his potential, he said. Now, he impacts the community by lifting up others.
 
“As a young kid growing up in a project in New Orleans, community played a big role in my life, as people came back and poured into me,” Sawyer said. “I’ve always wanted to give back. At Anacostia High School, kids see someone who looks like them, who shows them another way.”
 
Sawyer shares his time and resources off duty, personally sponsoring graduation packages for lower income honors students from his alma mater, George Washington Carver Senior High School in New Orleans. He has also contributed funds to offset travel costs for the school’s girls’ basketball team, and provided students with supplies for summer camp.
“I’ve seen them go from being hopeless to going to college, and some of them have come back to volunteer with me on their summer breaks,” Sawyer said. “They’ve taught me that as long as you’re giving back somewhere, you’re doing the Lord’s work; your job is to plant the seed, and others will come along and water it, and help it grow.”
 
Sawyer also distributes food to the local community every third Saturday of the month as a volunteer with Union Temple Baptist Church’s Village Keepers in Southeast D.C. This past Christmas, he helped feed 1,800 local residents, and led the group’s toy drive, which supplied gifts to 20 families.

Additionally, Sawyer mentors students at Anacostia High School. On base, he reads to children at the installation library’s twice-weekly story time sessions.

He also served as his unit’s interim 1st Sergeant, providing mental health support, material care, and resolving disciplinary issues for members. Chief Master Sergeant Joseph H. Baker III, a leader in Sawyer’s squadron, reflected on his teammate’s contributions, noting that “Damien’s ambition and dedication to give demonstrates he is true and caring person within the unit and community.”  
 
Sawyer is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in American Government. He plans to return to New Orleans after retirement and become more involved in local government.