Corps presents a groundbreaking award to a committed supporter.
By Jodene Setera
Guests gathered in March to attend the Chico Corps’ Annual Community Banquet and pay tribute to Larry Wahl, the corps’ first ever recipient of the “Chico Spirit of Caring” award.
Wahl has made a career of service, both to the nation and to his community. His accomplishments include recognitions of valor for his service in active combat as a commander and pilot. He was recently appointed Butte County District 2 supervisor.
Captain Darren S. Stratton, corps officer with his wife Courtney, saluted Wahl.
“We looked at Larry’s extensive background for the city, for the county and for the country. The Salvation Army’s emphasis is on service to mankind. He was an easy choice.”
The scheduled guest speaker, Air Force Captain Charles G. Cameron—a U2 fighter pilot—was unable to make it as he was deployed. Captain Aaron Gray, also a U2 pilot, replaced Cameron, arriving in his green flight suit, just in from a mission in Afghanistan.
Gray spoke of adversity in his profession and seeking peace among insurgencies. He said that many of his missions were spent alone, removed from the conflict on the ground. His story emphasized how humanity suffers in isolation and how hope is invaluable in any circumstance.
Anthony Salzman gave his testimony, recalling that The Salvation Army provided hope and a future when he had “nowhere else to go.” He spoke of his history as a convict and decades of addiction and violent crimes. Labeled “hard core” and a “lost cause,” Salzman applauded the Army for “taking a chance on me when no one else would.”
Sponsors for the event included Butte Creek Country Club, Wells Fargo, Chico Eye Center, Eagle Security, La Hacienda, Merrill Lynch, Modern Building, North State Rendering and Dr. and Mrs. Don Heithecker.