Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Service to serviceman honored

By David Hotle | May 09, 2013
Modine plant manager Kevin Conlin, left, production supervisor Dean Spiesz and Don Lane of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve display the plaque Spiesz was awarded for his support of employee and National Guard Spec. Eric Palmer.

Going into the regular managers meeting at Modine Manufacturing Company on Monday, production supervisor Dean Spiesz thought it would be nothing other than business as usual. His jaw almost hit the ground when Don Lane of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) entered the conference area carrying a plaque.
Lane announced to the group that Modine worker and Army Reserve Spec. Eric Palmer, a flight medic, had nominated Spiesz to receive a Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support from an employer. Lane said that Palmer is still deployed to Afghanistan and was able to nominate Spiesz online.
“It was kind of unexpected,” he said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”
ESGR created the Patriot Award to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who serve in a reserve branch of the military.   
Lane said the award is given to employers with employees in the military reserves. He said it recognizes employers who give extra help to a serviceman or their family while deployed.
Spiesz remembers the relatively new welder who was hired just over a year ago. He remembers Palmer’s strong work ethic and positive attitude. He also remembers how Palmer understood the balance he had to have between his service and his job. He hadn’t been at Modine very long when he had to give the news he was being deployed.
“I told him how much we appreciate his service to our country and that we are supporting him while he is over there keeping our country safe from terrorism,” Spiesz said. “We need to support our troops.”
He said there is no question that Palmer’s job will be waiting for him when he gets back later this year. He deployed in mid-July, Spiesz said.
This isn’t the first time Modine Manufacturing has been honored for support of military personnel. In the front hallway directly inside the doorway an “Above and Beyond” award, given previously for similar support of servicemen, is displayed prominently.
The presentation of the Patriot Award was a first for Lane. While about 60 Patriot awards had been presented in Iowa last year, it was the first time he had presented such an award to an area business. He said that the Camp Dodge administration who were in charge of presenting the awards had contacted him and asked him to make the presentation. He said since he lives only about 35 miles away in Sigourney, he agreed to do it.
A veteran of the Navy during the Vietnam War and a former member of the Iowa Army National Guard, Lane said the awards touched him on two levels.
“It was a very rewarding experience, to know employers appreciate our soldiers and what they do,” he said. “It is also rewarding to know the soldier appreciates what the employer does to help them. Anything an employer does for the soldier or their families relieves the burden on the soldier’s mind so he can do what he needs to do.”
Spiesz said that all the people at Modine wish Palmer all the best and want him to come home safely.

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