Marine of the Year 2017 MCL HMS 592
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Detachment Marine of the Year 2017


The “Howlin’ Mad” Smith detachment of the Marine Corps League is proud to award John Hilmer as the Detachment Marine of the Year. John is a shining example of a member who participates in every project. Participation and leadership are the life blood of our organization and John Hilmer personifies these qualities.

Hilmer has served as our detachment paymaster for the past four years. Due to John's excellent organizational and financial skills, he has consistently kept our finances in wonderful shape. When it is time to spend our funds on scholarships, programs and other expenses, we can rest assured John will take care of what needs to be done in a timely manner. In addition to the finances, he keeps our roster up to date and ensures that members’ dues are sent in when due. John's diligence in personally contacting members prior to their membership renewal month has led to our detachment having a remarkable six percent delinquency rate. As one of the largest detachments in the state, this is no easy task. John is dedicated, responsible and reliable.

John serves on our detachment honor guard, attending funerals for our members as well as any Marine in our area when our presence is requested. Additionally, John is a member of our award winning Veteran's Administration Hospital visitation squad, dedicating one day per week to visiting hospitalized Marines and other service members and their families to make sure their needs are being met, and to let them know someone is concerned about them. He also devotes one day per week to volunteering at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) trauma and burn intensive care unit. John became a volunteer after a serious injury caused him to be a patient in that unit. He has unique insight and can relate to the patients and their families. He serves as a great example of the recovery and rehabilitation from a serious injury and can give patients and their families hope at a time of great stress and uncertainty. John's assistance has been invaluable to the hospital and has lead him to becoming a member of the Spain Rehabilitation traumatic brain injury advocacy board. He also serves as an advisor to the UAB Auxiliary Board of Directors.

As historian for the American Legion Post 171, John attends all legion functions to make sure all the activities are recorded so the members of the post can look back on each year and keep up with their projects and programs. He participates in community service projects, attends all meetings and helps with fund raising activities.

Being active in his church, Hilmer is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's service organization. He has attained the highest level of the organization, a fourth degree Faithful navigator. As a knight, John participates in the many service projects of the organization. Some of his activities include acting as a mentor to young men, assisting church members, organizing the yearly Parish barbecue, many fund raising projects and is available to help the priest with any matters that come up. He also participates in ceremonies both at church and for parish members’ funerals.

John has amassed over 2100 hours of volunteer work for the VA and UAB hospitals combined. He is a true leader and a giver. His compassion for people and generous spirit make him a special person.

Congratulations John for being selected Detachment Marine of the Year.