Indian American sailor gets American Legion Award


New York : A young Indian American sailor in the US Navy has been selected for the prestigious American Legion Spirit of Service award for voluntarily serving the community.

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Fleet Readiness Centre Southwest (FRCSW) Commanding Officer Fred Cleveland nominated Gaurav R. Patel for the award, which honours one member from each of the services who exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism.

“This is a special honour. I know this great sailor will represent the many others in our Navy very well,” said Cleveland.

Patel will be honoured during the American Legion’s national conference to be held Aug 24-30 in Reno, Nevada, US Army portal reported

Born and raised in India, Patel came to the US in 1996, joined the US Navy in 2000 and became an American citizen in 2003.

“I love talking to kids and helping people. It seems like I’m doing a lot but it’s actually doing a lot for me. I get a lot in return by doing all of this,” said Patel.

In addition to normal naval duties, Patel volunteers weekly at the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) plus eight different agencies serving San Diego communities. Among them are the Special Olympics, the Polinsky Children’s Centre, and Welcome Home, an ASYMCA event for families of sailors and marines.

“I volunteer every other day. I tutor kids a majority of my time. We go to the Polinsky Centre. It’s similar to a foster house where kids from infants to 18-year-olds end up because they’ve been in trouble or their parents are into drugs or other things. Our goal is to go there and guide them so that when they get out, they don’t go back to the environment they came from,” Patel said.

His enthusiasm for volunteerism and community service earned Patel the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal in June.

Oriris, his wife of nearly four years, is also in the US Navy and currently attending recruit training at Naval Recruit Training Centre.