With the commissioning of four new Army officers at Coastal Carolina University the other day, the Grand Strand Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America has four more members to celebrate the chapter’s “5 Star Level of Excellence” award from the national MOAA.
Roger Pilcher, president of the Grand Strand Chapter, presented 2nd lieutenant gold bars to Derrick C. Barcliff, Anson T. Cavanagh, Justin M. Jackson and Chase H. McCabe. With their first gold bars, the new Army officers from the ROTC program at CCU receive the first year’s membership in national MOAA and the chapter. The Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Coastal is one of the many activities in which Grand Strand Chapter members participate.
The community involvement was one of the factors that helped the chapter win the 5 Star award. “We felt 2011 was the time – we didn’t want to compete before we thought we could win it.” The award is competitive. “We’re very proud of it,” Pilcher says of the award. “We’re the only chapter of our size that has it.”
The size of the chapter is another plus – the number of members (active, retired or former commissioned or warrant officers) has more than doubled in the past couple of years. With the new Army officers, chapter membership is at 110. In October 2011, the chapter was host to a statewide MOAA conference, held here only one other time.
In the community, MOAA members have been largely behind-the-scene volunteers who helped, in just one example, to make such a success of Military Appreciation Days sponsored by the city of Myrtle Beach. The May 2013 Military Appreciation Days will be the fifth. The MOAA chapter also is one of the many organizations supporting the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center in Little River; Honor Flight of Myrtle Beach, which has five times flown World War II veterans to Washington; and Scents for Soldiers, which brings wounded warriors in Washington area military hospitals to the Grand Strand for weekend vacations.
The chapter also works with Junior ROTC programs at 18 area high schools. At each high school, a student receives a leadership medal for his or her achievements. For the last two years, the chapter has awarded three $1,000 scholarships. JROTC students from the 18 schools compete for the three scholarships. Pilcher is rightfully proud that the scholarships are financed entirely by chapter members.
Chapter members obviously know a good leader when they have one. Typically, the chapter president has served two one-year terms. That was Pilcher’s plan, but he’s been prevailed upon to serve a third year and will be installed again as president in January. He showed leadership ability early in his 28 years in the Marines, graduating from Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot as platoon leader and the outstanding recruit. He was an enlisted man for eight years, then a disbursement officer for 20 years retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1980.