Laughlin XLer Wins Spirit of Hope Award

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A flight commander with the 47th Student Squadron here was recently awarded the Spirit of Hope Award for the entire Air Education and Training Command.

Capt. Jeffrey Burns, 47th STUS phase one flight commander and instructor pilot, earned the award for his selfless service to the Laughlin and Del Rio communities.

He was given the award for the execution of 23 different community service projects, raising more than $50,000 for charities and impacting more than 2,000 lives.

Burns' selfless efforts have not gone unnoticed by his commander.

"From my first interactions with Capt. Burns it was apparent that he was about more than himself," said Lt. Col. Jason Mills, 47th STUS commander. "What he does for Del Rio and Laughlin is truly appreciated."

Burns' service included everything from mentoring Civil Air Patrol cadets and local elementary school students to volunteering in disaster relief efforts.

"It's a huge honor to have been nominated for this award," said Burns. "I appreciate all of my mentors throughout my time here at Laughlin. This has been a humbling experience."

The award is named in honor of Bob Hope, the famous actor, comedian and author, who was an avid supporter of the military his entire life.

One member of each military service branch and one Department of Defense civilian are given the Spirit of Hope Award at the national level to remember Hope's contributions to our military service members, said Burns.

"When I showed up at Laughlin I wanted to give back to the community," he said. "I didn't have any award in mind when volunteering because helping people out is intrinsically pleasing."

Burns, a Birmingham, Ala. native, graduated from the University of Alabama and commissioned through the ROTC program at Detachment 010. He then earned his pilot wings here with Class 08-03.

He went on to fly the KC-10 Extender at Travis AFB, Calif., where he deployed four times and flew 1,178 combat hours over Iraq and Afghanistan, refueling numerous U.S. and coalition aircraft. Burns then returned to Team XL where he now handles the vital task of managing and teaching student pilots in their first six weeks of pilot training.

Burns will now compete at the Air Force level with the possibility of winning the prestigious award for the entire service branch.