|Maj. Ginger Turcotte, right, and Jon Russell, left, present the Patriot Award to Randall Popp during a ceremony at OSU-Tulsa.|
A U.S. Department of Defense agency has recognized Oklahoma State University in Tulsa Information Technology Director Randall Popp with the Patriot Award for his support of an Oklahoma National Guard member who was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The agency, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, promotes cooperation between civilian employers and National Guard and Reserve employees.
Maj. Ginger Turcotte, 138th communications flight commander at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base, presented the award in recognition of Popp’s support of Jon Russell, an OSU in Tulsa telecommunications technician, during a special ceremony on April 30.
Russell, a staff sergeant and cyber transport craftsman with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, had worked at OSU in Tulsa for only seven months when he was deployed in 2012 to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar to provide communications support to thousands of U.S. and coalition forces serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. Russell nominated Popp for the award for supporting his deployment.
“Randall fully embraced his employee’s call to duty without hesitation and made certain Jon was aware of OSU’s military leave policies,” said Turcotte. “Jon walked away from his life for six months and his service in Qatar would not have been possible without the help of his family, friends and his civilian family at OSU in Tulsa.”
Turcotte presented Popp with a framed Patriot Award and a lithograph of an F-16CG Fighting Falcon.
“It is an honor to receive this award but it’s not just me. It’s the university as a whole that has policies in place for employees like Jon who serve in the military, active or reserve,” Popp said. “We appreciate Jon’s service to our nation and I’m proud to be with an organization that serves and supports our military employees.”
Russell said he wanted to show his appreciation of his director’s support and professionalism during his transition to active duty and then back to civilian life.
“I’m blessed by my military family and the OSU in Tulsa community to be able to serve my country and work for a great institution,” said Russell. “It’s a privilege to work for Randall and OSU in Tulsa.”
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.