Chief Master Sergeant Johnny Stewart - USAF (Retired) - Beverly Hills, FL
This is a military veteran with 26 years and 8 months active duty service that includes combat service in the Vietnam War. Military assignments include service with Air Force Special Operations (unconventional warfare scenarios and counter terrorism supported events), United States Peacekeeping Force Operations in the Middle East and African continents and tactical communications systems operations in support of the President of the United States and Joint Chiefs of Staff highly classified operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. During this service Chief Stewart received 44 decorations and awards, including four Meritorious Service Medals, four Commendations medals and decorations from three separate branches of the military.
During his career and after retirement as a volunteer supporting veterans and our community over three decades, he has received numerous prestigious awards both locally, statewide and on a national level.
Following military retirement, Chief Stewart was a Network Engineer for Hanson Corporation and subcontractor for other businesses until Agent Orange from Vietnam War service severely impacted his health. He is now a 100% disabled veteran and retired.
Chief Stewart has been heavily involved with programs in support of military veterans and their families for over three decades. He has served as an Officer in the Veterans and Foreign Wars organization as a Post Chaplain, Honor Guard Commander, Senior Vice Commander, and on multiple occasions as a Post Commander in three States. During that period he has conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of funeral services for military veterans at National and private cemeteries. He currently serves as Commander, VFW Post 4252 in Hernando, Florida. He is also an Executive Board Member for Citrus County’s Operation Welcome Home Program that was formed to honor returning veterans from the current war on terrorism. To date, over 360 county veterans and their families have been honored with a large ceremony attended by local veterans organizations, private organizations, private citizens, local government officials, members of Congress, and the Florida House of Representatives.
He is a member of Citrus County’s ADHOC Committee tasked with planning programs during Veterans Day events throughout November, to include assisting with management of the one of largest annual Veterans Day parades in southeast United States. The Chief served three years as Vice President of Citrus County’s Veterans Advisory Board providing advice to the Veterans Administration, County Commissioners and County Veterans Service Officers.
He is author and publisher of two White Papers to study problems within the Veterans Administration and provided recommendations for improvement in support of our veterans. The first, published in March 2014, was a 65 page study outlining specific areas that needed to be addressed. This was used by the local government and by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to work on those problems. The second paper, a 12 page article published December 2014, was used by Citrus County’s Board of Commissioners to understand and correct difficulties locally with veterans support.
In 2013, Chief Stewart and a local Veterans Service Officer developed and published two 86 page book editions titled “A Guide To Obtaining Veterans Administration Compensation Benefits”. This acclaimed publication has since been used throughout the United States by veterans to ease their difficulties in applying for and obtain benefits as a result of military service related illnesses and injuries.
Chief Stewart has been an integral part of Honor Flight, a national program established to honor World War II veterans by providing a free flight to Washington to see their Memorial. The Chief pays for his own transportation costs while accompanying the veteran. In the past two years he has served as a Guardian on 6 flights to remember the service of these heroes. He has also appeared at countless events to raise funds for not only the Honor Flight effort but for Operation Welcome Home, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other veterans organizations and events established to support veterans and their families. This includes fund raising for the local veteran’s homeless shelter and a food bank for veteran’s families.
The Chief has been Editor and Publisher of the Grapevine, a 32 page bi-monthly newspaper developed to inform veterans and family members on current subjects ranging from Veterans Administration issues and other related resources. In order to better serve veterans, he publishes two separate issues, one locally and one nationally. He is currently in his 18lh year of this publication.
In order to better serve veterans and families within current technology, Chief Stewart has placed his Grapevine publications on websites. He is Webmaster and host for the sites and has several other sites developed to support veterans. These include www.veteransgrapevine.com, www.operationwelcomehomeveterans.org and www.veteranspage.com where several thousand veterans are able to download publications or find links to pertinent veterans information. Additionally, his technological expertise is used for other veteran related events such as an annual Veterans Reunion program held in Crystal River, Florida and to assist veterans with computer difficulties. He has also installed a computer system in the local VFW Post where returning veterans seeking employment are able to review U.S. wide job opportunities and post resumes.
The Chief has served for nearly two decades with the Veterans in Classroom program where he meets with school students to discuss his career and their possible future as a military veteran.
Chief Stewart is a member of the Air Commando Association, 7th Special Operations Squadron Organization, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans.
He was selected as Arbor Lakes Homeowners Association Memorial Day speaker in 2012 and 2014. He was also selected as speaker for the Pine Ridge Homeowners Association Beverly Hills, Florida for their 2015 Memorial Day event. In 2014 he was selected as Keynote Speaker for the 40 and 8 organization’s Florida Convention and their National Convention in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Chief organized and conducted a program using veterans, their family members and local business leaders in conjunction with The Fight Continues, a nationwide program to read the names in an event of every military veteran lost in battle in history.
He has repeatedly served as Master of Ceremonies for Student Scholarship Recognition Awards Programs at the VFW. He also participated in monthly student recognition programs at a local middle school to honor students.
Chief Stewart has been an important asset within the Citrus County community. He served for over five years as a volunteer at Citrus Memorial Hospital, eventually rising to Vice President of Operations. He has been selected on countless occasions to be guest speaker at community events tailored to military veterans. These range from Homeowners Associations, to non-profits. He is an assistant Pastor at a local church with tasks including performing communion for parishioners, visiting hospitalized veterans and providing information to the attendees regarding ongoing veterans related functions in the local area. Additionally, Chief Stewart has been called upon by leaders in the local government to speak at numerous community functions, such as Memorial Day programs, Flag Day ceremonies and Veterans Day functions.
The Chief was Project Manager for a four day event in Inverness, Florida in 2015 to honor Vietnam War veterans and their families. He has joined his Operation Welcome Home program with Washington’s Commemoration of the Vietnam War Program by becoming a certified Partner. Thousands and thousands of veterans were able to participate in a parade, visit the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, take part in events honoring their service, see flyovers of military aircraft in their honor, and have numerous other events recognizing their sacrifices. Thousands of dollars were raised to purchase a beautiful medallion designed by Chief Stewart for presentation to every Vietnam War veteran attending the function. Those unable to attend due to physical or mental issues were personally visited in their homes by the Chief and presented a medallion in honor of their service.
- Graduate Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy Graduate Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy Graduate of numerous military courses and programs
- Graduate of Air Force Ground Radio Systems
- Associates Degree Communications
- Ordained Minister serving as Pastor supporting all faiths in the veterans community and Assistant Pastor and local church
- Recipient of Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree
- Completed FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team Course hosted by Citrus County
There have been many, many awards given to Chief Stewart over the years for his support of veterans and our community. A sample of those awards that Chief Stewart is listed below.
- 2015 The Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award
- 2014 La Societe der 40 Homines et 8 Chevaux (40 and 8) State of Florida Americanism Award
- 2014 La Societe der 40 Homines et 8 Chevaux (40 and 8) National Americanism Award Selected as Grand Marshal Veterans Day Parade Inverness, Florida 2012
- 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution, Fort Cooper Chapter, Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Award
- 2015 Daughters of the American State of Florida Veterans Service Award
- Nominee 2016 Daughters of American Revolution National Veterans Service Award (in decisional process)
- 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution Distinguished Service Medal, Fort Cooper DAR
- 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution State of Florida Service For Veterans Medal
- Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation as Commemorative Partner in the Vietnam War Commemoration, 50th Anniversary
- American Legion Post 155 Auxiliary Certificate of Appreciation January 2015
- Operation Welcome Home Certificate of Appreciation for management of events to honor Vietnam War veterans Inverness, Florida May 1-3, 2015.
- Certificate of Appreciation Veterans of Foreign Wars 2015
- Plaque in appreciation of community support from Kings Bay Rotary Crystal River, Florida 2015
- 2015 Certificate of Appreciation Citrus County Community Services Director for service on the Citrus County Veterans Advisory Board
- Certificate of Appreciation VFW Post 4252 Auxiliary for support of Thanksgiving baskets for needy veterans families 2015
- Plaque in appreciation of service to country and veterans from Samuel R. Wall Detachment 1139 Marine Corps League 2013
- Plaque in appreciation of dedication, friendship and support from Manatee Young Marines of Citrus County
- Certificate and Flag flown in Afghanistan presented by U.S. Navy representative of Operation Enduring Freedom for support of veterans serving in the war on terrorism
- 2015 Certificate of Appreciation from the Marine Corps League for planning and management of events to support honoring Vietnam War veterans
- Letter of Appreciation from City of Inverness, for appearance as main speaker at their 2015 Flag Day event.
- Certificate of Appreciation from Vietnam Veterans Gathering organization for assistance during their 6lh annual event
- Received a certificate as Citizen of the Month for Central Citrus Rotary Club