By Tom Udall: Guest Columnist
Monday at the Pentagon, the U.S. Air Force will honor Clovis’ Ernest “Doc” Stewart with the 2005 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitar-ian Award. This is a truly fitting tribute for the civic leader and businessman who has been a staple and champion of the Clovis community since the 1950s.
Doc’s military service began in World War II when he served in the Navy as the chief pharmacist, and continues today as an advocate for Cannon Air Force Base through his work with the Committee of Fifty in Clovis and Washington, DC.
Through his work, Stewart has gained the respect of senior military leaders throughout the Air Force, which is reflected by the fact that he has played a role in every decision affecting Cannon since 1968. His initiative to further the base’s mission and goals never ceases, and as a result he has improved the quality of life for the thousand of men and women stationed at Cannon.
In 1969, Stewart was instrumental in acquiring funds to build an overpass over the railroad and highway in Clovis. This move allowed the base to operate in its current location and made the purchase of land to build the Chavez Manor military family units possible in 1971.
That same year, Stewart acted as a spokesman for Cannon when it began the process of expanding the Melrose Bombing range by 38,000 acres. At that time, he worked with the ranchers in Clovis to communicate the benefits of the range, which is the only range solely owned by a wing of the Air Force today.
Stewart’s contributions to Cannon were also environmentally sound. As we in New Mexico all recognize, water is one of our most precious resources, and Stewart made sure the base was in compliance with all state environmental standards. In addition, he gained Congressional approval for the base’s waste water treatment plant, which has the capacity to recycle up to 800,000 gallons of water per day.
The diligent work of Doc Stewart will have a strong and lasting impact on Clovis and the Cannon AFB community.
He has been instrumental in building the foundation for the 27th Fighter Wing, “America’s Go-To Wing.”
I salute you, Doc, for your many contributions and congratulate you on this distinguished award.
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., can be contacted at 202-225-6190.