All of these people came onboard. Their American hearts came out. It was unbelievable.
Senior maintenance specialist Joe Silva
To acknowledge their support, the U.S. Army bestowed its fourth-highest civilian honor on Silva and the Turnaround Planning group at a ceremony in Fort Benning, Ga., on Sept. 10, 2010.
“It was a great honor,” said Silva, who accepted the bronze medal, lapel button and certificate award on behalf of Shell.
“I felt out of place because those men earned their medals. We were just doing something out of the kindness of our hearts. When the lieutenant pinned the medal on me, he said,
‘Mr. Silva, I want to thank you and Shell Oil for what you did for these boys. They are in places that people can’t dream of and when they started getting these supplies, it took their minds off war for a minute and it brought their morale up so much.’ ”
While at the ceremony, the troops personally shared their gratitude with Silva.
“They came up to me, shook my hand and told me how much they appreciated what we did,” Silva noted. The U.S. Army sent a large framed print of the Army Rangers that hangs in the Turnaround Planning building.
Last August, Silva rallied his co-workers to participate in a collection drive after hearing that his son-in-law, who is a first sergeant in the elite Army Rangers, needed some basic necessities while deployed in Afghanistan.
“Why not provide items for other U.S. service personnel?” Silva reasoned. If his son-in-law needed socks, soap, shaving gel, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, surely other soldiers did too. Gum, candy, trail mix, beef jerky, alarm clocks and music gadgets would be nice treats, along with Wacky String and water balloons for lighter times.
“They don’t get these items in the field that we take for granted,” Silva said.
He showed the troops’ wish list to his co-workers, who mobilized in high gear. They started buying and collecting items. Refinery contractors got wind of the effort and contributed. Participating contractors included Any Time Services, Brand Scaffolding, Certified Safety Specialists, Integra Technologies, J.T. Thorpe and Son, Inc., Matrix Service Company, Petrochem Field Services, Phillips Services Company, S&S Tool and Supply, Timec and United Anco Services.
Shell employees Lenny Roque and Kalani Cobb spearheaded the boxing and wrapping effort, which took three hours. The Community Relations department paid more than $2,000 in postage to ship the boxes.
In addition, Refinery contractor Starcon International shipped three 55-gallon drums stuffed with personal care supplies from its Texas office. Another contractor, Total Safety, sent about 100 boxes to the troops.
“All of these people came onboard. Their American hearts came out. It was unbelievable. We ended up sending well over 500 boxes altogether,” Silva said. The positive effect on the troops and their appreciation will certainly inspire Turnaround Planning employees to host another collection drive. “They want to know when my son-in-law is being deployed so we can do it again,” Silva said.
-- Eleanor Hunt