By Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge
Utah National Guard
The Utah National Guard and the Honorary Colonels Corps honored six civic leaders at the 59th Annual Bronze Minuteman Awards dinner, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Brian Tarbet, commander Honorary Colonels Corps, presented the Bronze Minuteman awards to six community leaders for their extraordinary support and leadership to the citizens of Utah.
“This is actually one of my favorite events on the National Guard calendar,” said Turley. “Typically in the military, we are the ones being praised from the community at large and this is an opportunity for us to turn that around and give some praise back to our great civic leaders who are pillars in our society.”
This years recipients of the Bronze Minuteman award are:
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jeff Burton, the previous adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, and member of the Utah State Legislature.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Larry Lunt, member of the Utah Air National Guard for 36 years, and former member of the Utah House of Representatives.
Mr. Joe Rupp, a retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, and board member of the Young Lawyer Division of the Utah State Bar, and the director and program coordinator for the Veterans Legal Clinic held at the Salt Lake VA.
Ms. Jackie Sexton, previous member of the Salt Lake Chamber vice president of Events and Programs who served as the staff liaison for the Military Affairs Committee, helping business leaders recognize and support the military community.
Ms. Susan Sheehan, president and COO, Huntsman Cancer Foundation who oversees and directs all philanthropy programs for cancer fundraising, marketing communications, legislative efforts, and strategic initiatives as identified by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation Board of Directors.
Mr. Kevin Smith, CEO and executive producer of Tuacahn Center for the Arts, one of the largest non-profit arts and educational organizations in Utah.
“Tonight we celebrate these pillars of our great civil society,” said Turley. “We are proud to celebrate and honor these great citizens that make such an impact on our community, our great state, and our beloved country. In fact, I think they make an impact on our whole world for the better.”
Also honored at the awards dinner was Jake Garn, former commander, Honorary Colonels Corps, and former U.S. senator and astronaut for his contributions to the community, state, and Honorary Colonels organization.
“I wanted to be here for one reason, to recognize Jake Garn, who has been with us for nearly 30 years. This is a remarkable individual who has spent so much of his time and treasure on us,” said Tarbet. “Nobody is going to succeed him in this position, because his footsteps are huge and contributions are remarkable.”
Following the ceremony, Sheehan remarked that she felt honored to receive the award and that it was nice to see that healthcare’s community involvement was also being recognized.
“I feel so grateful and honored,” said Sheehan. “It is lovely to see that a non-military kind of initiative that puts its arms around the community in a different way, for healthcare, would be recognized as well.”
Sexton, who was raised in a National Guard military family and who has been an advocate for reserve service members throughout her career also felt honored receiving the award.
“This is an honor that I can’t believe I have received. I have been to this dinner so many times and for me to be included in this distinguished list of people is such an honor.
Sexton also commented that growing up and watching the difficulties her father had balancing his National Guard service and his civilian career is what drives her in her support for the military.
“That's where my passion was, to make sure that the companies that reservists worked for had the support they need so they [reserve service members] could do their job and serve their country. That is what drives me,” said Sexton.
The sponsor of the event, the Honorary Colonels, is a dedicated group of civic and community leaders of Utah who promote positive relations between the Utah Army and Air National Guard and the community. The corps also provides annual support for Utah National Guard activities such as Freedom Academy and Veterans Day Concert.
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