Navy League Taps Military Citizen of the Year

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

It's widely known the kind of impact Meridian Naval Air Station has on the community from an economic development perspective. It brings millions of dollars into the area every year.

What you may not realize is how much the people at NAS Meridian do for this community as volunteers.

Those people were honored for helping Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, aluminum recycling programs, and the list goes on.

The three men recognized Tuesday were all military personnel who are major players in helping charities and non-profit groups.

The Military Citizen of the Year Award is given to an individual who not only goes above and beyond in their commands, but in the local community as well.

"That phrase 'service above self', they take it to a whole new level," said Crystal Dupre, president of the Meridian Area Navy League. "They work with students; they work with organizations in the community, countless hours of giving back."

Command Military Citizens of the Year were NAS Meridian's Master-at-Arms Chief Clarence Hoffman; Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One's Sgt. Anthony Walker; and this year's overall winner, Naval Technical Training Center's Ship Serviceman First Class David Zepeda.

"It means the world to me," said Zepeda. "It's awesome. It was great to have the opportunity to do what I did with NAS Meridian. NTTC allowed me to have full reign doing everything I possibly could for the community. And the community itself allowed me to come out and have myself and the students come out and beautify and make Meridian a much better place to live."

Zepeda served and coordinated a multitude of volunteer programs in the Navy and community. He went on to say that he worked off base every single week in order to create a stronger bond with the community.

Zepeda participates with the SHIPMATES program, Navy-Marine Relief Society, as a sexual assault advocate, and with the recycling program on base.


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