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Commander touts base's importance

Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn couldn't share the classified details about information gathering at Fort Gordon, but he said, "They are really saving lives every day."

The commander of the U.S. Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon was the guest speaker March 18 for the Rotary Club of Thomson. He was introduced by retired Gen. Dwayne Patrick, of Thomson.

Lynn said experts stationed at Fort Gordon monitor the entire globe. "They are helping the military fight the fight in real time," he said.

The commander gave a run-down on the installation's size and its economic importance to the area. The 55,000-acre property includes an artillery range, 13 other ranges, and a parachute drop zone. The four branches of the military have 25,000 uniformed and civilian employees at the base, and those payrolls support 54,000 other civilian jobs, he said.

The fort has $522 million in ongoing construction projects, he said, and is spending $150 million for military health care in the community. Personnel donated 60,000 volunteer hours outside the installation in 2010, he said. The Combined Federal Campaign of the CSRA gained $472,000 through Fort Gordon in 2009.

Lynn said the fort follows expected security procedures, but it is not closed to the public. He invited the community to enjoy the dinner theater, the shooting ranges at the Sportsman's Club, and the 27-hole golf course.

He noted the Warriors in Transition program, which provides medical and administrative support to wounded soldiers.

"This group right now is our next greatest generation," he said. Some service members have served four rotations in combat, he said. "They're fighting those who would come to our country," the general said. "Those people would come here if we didn't fight them there."

Two Warriors in Transition addressed the Rotary.

Sgt. Ruben Pedro said he came from Portugal and took an oath to serve the U.S. in February 2005. He was wounded in May 2008, during his second deployment to Iraq. He said he has received excellent medical care. Transition can be difficult, he said, but the "community helps so much" with that adjustment.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Boyles was wounded in Afghanistan in May 2009. His back was broken in three places. "Yet I am walking today because people in this community, fellow Americans, were willing to step up and give something," he said.

The Rotary also donated $2,600 to Pat Farner on behalf of the Ferst Foundation. Farner is the chairwoman for the community action team of the local literacy program, which donates books to children.

Rotary member and Ferst board member Dot Knox said that when parents fail to read with a child up to age 3, that child's learning process is skewed. She said developing reading skills early contributes to an educated and productive work force.

Rotarian Jim LeBrun, the superintendent of McDuffie County Schools, said the school system has set a goal of raising $4,800 for relief for Japan. "I'm asking our people to refrain from one Coke or one cup of coffee and give us a dollar," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011

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