MWR director earns high honor, inducted into Order of the White Plume

At a gathering of Army professionals responsible for parks, recreation and much more, honors and accolades abounded. The most special, though, was conferring one of the profession’s highest honors on Fort Stewart’s director of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Mark Germonprez was presented with the Order of the White Plume during the Army G-9 Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation conference in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 6.

The Order of the White Plume recognizes significant impacts, achievements, or acts making long term contributions to Army FMWR. Established in 1982 by the Adjutant General of the Army, it is the Army’s second highest medal for achievement in support of Army Family and MWR programs.

As of February 2024, there are 476 recipients of the Order of the White Plume. Notable recipients include retired Gen. George W. Casey, retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston, and former IMCOM commanders Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson and Maj. Gen. John Macdonald.

Being recognized with the distinctive honor means a lot to Germonprez and was a “pleasant shock” when he received it because it was a surprise.

“The White Plume is an award I always hoped to receive but really never thought I would,” he said.

That’s what makes the award that much more special, Hood said.

“It is so rare and reserved for those at the pinnacle of delivering MWR support services to the community,” he said. “It is made all the more special because he receives it surrounded by his peers and it is presented in person by Lt. Gen Omar Jones, the commanding general of Installation Management Command.”

Germonprez said the award is special because he was nominated by his team to whom he is thankful for the nomination. The care his team shows to him is reflected in his leadership philosophy.

“If you ask my team what my #1 rule is they will tell you it is to take care of your people,” Germonprez said.

Fort Stewart’s Deputy to the Garrison Commander Steven Hood echoed that sentiment, saying Germonprez’s peers and superiors in FMWR recognize him among the “elite.”

“These are professionals in the business that understand the challenges inherent with serving the community and have years of experience in knowing what right looks like,” he said.

Making a list of all what Germonprez has accomplished would still fall short of the lasting impacts he has on FMWR, Hood said. From overseeing the on-post day care centers and golf courses, Germonprez’s legacy is his attitude toward his team and customers.

“His contributions can be weighed and measured in the morale and energy of his team and the customer service focused delivery of services,” Hood said. “Any time I can witness firsthand Mark Germonprez interact with his team. His pride and admiration for what the MWR accomplishes everyday shines through. He is admired and respected by his team and the admiration is mutual. He is quick to give all credit of success to his formation.”

All-encompassing or not, the list of Germonprez’s accomplishments provided by Tyler Gierber, FMWR deputy director, is impressive.

Germonprez held nine no-cost concerts for the installation, led FMWR through the pandemic, successfully created a used car auction, championing a commercial sponsorship program, and mentoring and leading teammates who have moved on to positions of greater responsibility, including Gieber himself as well as Natalie Boutte, previous deputy DFMWR, who became MWR director in Japan; Jennifer Peterson, previous deputy DFMWR, who became PAIO director here; Chris Isbill, previous business operations chief, who is now a business programs analyst at Installation Directorate-Support; Kristy Adams, previous sports fitness aquatics manager, who is now the community recreation chief for USN Japan; and Cara Herring, previous special events coordinator, who is now the BOSS Advisor at Installation Directorate-Readiness.

“He deserves this award after serving 33 and counting years for the Army in MWR programs at three installation and one tour to Afghanistan,” Gierber said. “I am honored to be serving alongside of him. He has left a lasting impression on my life, and I look forward to everything else he will accomplish.”

Having senior leaders on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield who are innovative and engaged in providing Soldiers and Families with the best possible programs is also helpful, Hood said. Germonprez is a solution-based leader.

“Mark’s experience, courage and candor come together to provide those senior leaders with an accurate fact-based picture so that they can make the best decision possible, fully aware of the reward and risk associated with it,” Hood said. “Once the course of action is decided, Mark executes.”

Germonprez said he feels his biggest contribution is the lives his programs touch.

“It may be a Soldier, their family or it may be an MWR team member, but we touch a lot of lives,” he said.

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