NSDAR Community Service Award nominee is Howard J. Hill

Special to The Log
Choctawhatchee Bay National Society Daughters of the American Revolution presented Col. (ret) Howard J. Hill with the Community Service Award for 22+ years of service to the Niceville PAL Soccer League and the NSDAR Certificate of Appreciation for Valor, Sacrifice, and Service during the Vietnam War. Pictured with Col. Hill are (from left) State Regent Ginger Poffenberger. Regent Caroline Maney, and Community Service Awards Chair Marcia Wright-Reynolds.

As a local chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Choctawhatchee Bay Chapter NSDAR seeks out those in our local community who exemplify service to his or her local community. One of the objectives of the Daughters of the American Revolution is to recognize local citizens for their dedication and contributions to their community. The DAR Community Service Award allows us to recognize worthy residents, for voluntary achievements in cultural, educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical, and citizenship endeavors, or in environmental conservation.

Although this award is presented to local residents, it is a DAR national award, approved and sent from the DAR national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Choctawhatchee Bay Chapter is proud to add Col. Howard J. Hill to their list of Community Service Award recipients for his contributions to his community and county. The award was presented to Col. Hill at the society’s Jan. 14 meeting.

Within the local community Col. Hill is known as “Mr. Girls Soccer.” It is a title he began earning long before the American women’s soccer team won the 1996 Olympic gold medal. It began in 1992 while stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Col. Hill helped start girls soccer at Niceville. From that local community service beginning, Col. Hill went on to serve as founder, coach, and referee for the old Police Athletic League, which became the PAL Soccer League.

In 1994 Col. Hill became president of the league and has continued in that volunteer position for 22 seasons still serving in that position today. During his tenure, Col. Hill lead the all volunteer organization to its current size of 85 teams involving 988 youth from ages 3-18 and 160 coaches. Ninety-eight of the participants are ages 3-5 in the “start smart soccer” program to teach basic skills. There are 890 youth on teams and while the participants come mainly from the Twin Cities area, the program has participants from both Okaloosa and Walton counties. The program is governed by a volunteer board of 21; half of whom do not have children playing in the league. The league receives no city or county funds but does use the City of Niceville’s playing fields at Twin Hills Park on the site of the old Bay Lumber Company sawmill in Niceville. During the soccer season he can be found on most days at the playing fields. They were named for Col. Hill in 2006 in recognition of his years of volunteer service to the youth of the area. Through it all, Col. Hill gives credit to all of the wonderful volunteers who make PAL soccer such a success and community asset for the youth of Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

In summing up why Col. Hill was honored, Regent Caroline Maney said, “Col. Hill is not only a man passionate about soccer, but a man passionate about his country. He served with honor in the Air Force from 1961 until his retirement on June 30, 1989, receiving a Silver Star Medal and two Bronze Star Medals. He was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. We honor him today as the very essence of what makes America a great country. It is men like Col. Hill who serve their country on and off the battle field.”