MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A hospital corpsman with the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital was presented an award from the American Legion by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in recognition of his outstand volunteerism and performance of duties during a ceremony in Salt Lake City Aug. 29.Petty Officer 2nd Class Dempsey L. Tomblin, an advance radiology technologist, was selected as the Navy recipient of the American Legion’s Spirit of Service award along with recipients from the other four branches of the armed forces.The secretary of defense was joined by the American Legion’s national commander, Thomas L. Block, in presenting the glass and marble awards to each of the five service members at the 88th National Convention of the American Legion. This was the seventh year the Spirit of Service award was given out.Nominees for the award had to be below the pay grade of E-6 and have numerous volunteer hours as well as an outstanding record of service."I feel very honored to have been able to represent the hospital and the base," said the 32-year-old Willacoochee, Ga., native. "I also feel honored that my command thought enough of me to nominate me for this. I feel blessed because it could have been anybody."Lt. Cmdr. Fred D. Schmitz, director of clinical support services at the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital which oversees the radiology department, said Tomblin was more than qualified for the Spirit of Service award."He’s been very active in mentoring our sailors ere in the hospital and done wonderful things in radiology," he said. "I can’t come up with enough superlatives to describe him. He’s simply outstanding."Within the hospital, Tomblin took a pivotal role since his arrival in 2004 in the radiology department to change from chemical X-ray processing to a new digital technique, a feat with earned him a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He also helped expand his department’s on-the-job training opportunities for his fellow sailors.Another of Tomblin’s brainchildren was the creation of a mentoring program called "Recruit the Chief," which he designed for junior sailors in the hospital to work toward passing their career advancement tests. The program has already seen nearly 25 sailors successfully become petty officers since its induction, but Tomblin said he hopes to expand the program and reach even more people."I really love my job I really like helping people and helping them see their potential," said Tomblin, who enlisted in the Navy in June 1996 after attending the University of Georgia in Atlanta and playing football there. "When I came here to Twentynine Palms, I saw a great opportunity." But leading from the front is nothing new for Tomblin, who was his recruit training division’s honor graduate and also the honor graduate from his basic and advanced courses for radiology at Navy School of Health Sciences in San Diego. He said his path to the Navy medicine partially came from his father, who served in the Air Force, and his major of physical therapy in college.Putting his health science knowledge to use, Tomblin began using plyometric training, a form of strength training, during workouts and soon was able to slam dunk a basketball. One day during a local high school basketball game halftime, he dunked a ball on the court and caught the eye of the head coach, who recruited him to help train his team.After a summer of training the Twentynine Palms High School varsity basketball team to new limits and a series of successful summertime tournaments later, Tomblin was asked to stay on as an assistant coach, which he still volunteers with on a regular basis."I love sports and I believe sports can be a tremendous builder for young people," said Tomblin, who also plays basketball on the Combat Center’s varsity team, the "Over 30 League" and on the hospital’s team during intramural season. This year was the intramural hospital team’s first-ever championship title."Sports are about bonding with people of different cultures and emphasizes that you work together to be successful," he continued. "Those are the same things you have to do in the military or the civilian world, too. If you start as a youngster in sports it can definitely help you be successful in those types of environments."Although he continues to test for advancement to petty officer first class, Tomblin has submitted a commissioning package to the Navy Medical Service Corps which was recently reviewed by a board and the results will be announced in November. Schmitz, who was one of the board’s reviewing members, said he was very impressed with Tomblin and his commissioning package continues to get stronger with each command he is with. Additionally, Tomblin is working to complete dual bachelors degrees in health care administration and radiology technology."It’s not his first time on that board and we here at the hospital are optimistic he’ll be selected this time," said Schmitz.Currently, Tomblin has orders to report to the 3rd Marine Logistics Group at Marine Corps Base Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, as a "green side" Marine unit hospital corpsman in January."My first training was as a unit doc," said Tomblin, who plans to earn his Fleet Marine Force qualifications, a distinction among green side corpsmen, once he arrives at Camp Foster. "I was trained to do this and I’m looking forward to it."Back at the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital, many of Tomblin’s colleagues said they will be sorry to see him go once he leaves for Japan."He’s going to be very difficult to replace when he transfers on," said Schmitz. "He was an outstanding candidate for the [Spirit of Service] award and was recognized for all the right reasons. He does so many things for us and has been very important to radiology in his time here. He’s been incredible and we’re going to miss him."