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MILDENHALL, England — The wife of a Lakenheath airman won a $6,000 scholarship for her essay extolling the virtues of her local Air Force Club.

Jacqueline Benningfield, wife of Staff Sgt. Keller Benningfield of the 48th Fighter Wing Headquarters Company, said she will use the money to help pay for her master’s degree in accounting.

“I’m ecstatic because it will afford me the opportunity to get about half of my degree done,” Benningfield said. “Since it’s a master’s program, I don’t qualify for financial aid. It was a blessing for me.”

Benningfield, who is taking college courses online from the University of Maryland, was given her prize earlier this month by Brig. Gen. Mark T. Matthews, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing.

Benningfield, who lived for three years in Ramstein, Germany, before her husband was transferred to Lakenheath, said being a member of the local Air Force Club has helped them make the most out of living outside the United States.

“It’s easy when you’re in operation tempo to get stuck in what you’re doing and not open yourself up to other opportunities,” Bennigfield said.

“But they’re out there.”

Six scholarships totaling $25,000 were awarded by the Air Force Club Membership Scholarship Program. The other winners were from stateside bases. It was the seventh year the organization had awarded the scholarships.

Club members and their families could submit an essay titled “Air Force Clubs — Help Us Make ‘Members First.’ ” Two essays were chosen by each participating base to compete for the six Air Force awards.

In her winning essay, Benningfield wrote that “club membership is much more than bingo, BBQs, and squadron functions.”

“The club continuously looks for ways to put ‘Members First.’ I heard about an Air Force Club sending goodie packages to deployed troops and another organizing a carnival for spouses and children of deployed members.

“It’s good to know my club dues help to raise morale,” she wrote.

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