YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The tiny Naval Security Group Detachment at Yongsan Garrison has won an annual Navy award for cultural programming and base relations.

The seven-sailor Naval Security Group Detachment Seoul took first place in the “special events, observances and special publics” category of the Rear Adm. William Thompson Awards for Excellence in Public Affairs.

“We’ve tried to do something unique for the special observances, make it different from what you’ve seen in past years,” said Lt. Cmdr. Luis E. Reinoso, officer in charge of NSGD, as the detachment is known.

“The real reason it’s successful is that people are so willing to volunteer. More than anything, I leave it up to the sailors to come up with the ideas and they run with it.”

The group oversees at least five special observances each year, usually to mark Hispanic American Month, Women’s History Month, African American History Month, Native American History Month and Asian Pacific Islander History Month.

For the Asian Pacific Islander observance, the group put on a special demonstration by a sailor’s spouse who was a former martial arts champion. They then held a forum to discuss the ties with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.

For women’s history month, they enlisted a panel of successful military and civilian women, including an Army colonel who was in the first West Point class to admit women.

“NSGD really has a great program that has throughout the year, focused on the rich diversity, strength and heritage of our U.S. military,” said Lt. Cmdr. K.C. Marshall, Commander, Naval Forces Korea public affairs officer.

The Thompson Awards are named for Rear Adm. William Thompson, the first designated public affairs officer promoted to flag rank. He served as the Navy’s chief of information from 1971 until his retirement in 1975.

He created the awards program, which later was named in his honor. The Thompson Awards honor “professionalism and excellence — as personally exemplified by Read Adm. Thompson — by recognizing Navy public affairs achievements,” according to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

The competition is open to all active-duty Navy commands and activities with public affairs personnel assigned.

Other categories include community relations, emergency activities and internal communications.

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