By Lisa Hunter, Center for Domestic Preparedness
A staff member at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness was recently promoted to one of the highest positions within the Loyal Order of Moose.
Woody Davis, Operations Officer at the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological training facility, Anniston, Ala., recently bestowed with the the Pilgrim Degree of Merit which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of the Loyal Order of Moose. The honor is a degree bestowed upon members for their extraordinary service to the order. The order has more than 1 million male members internationally, of which less than 3,000 serving members hold the Pilgrim degree according to Davis.
Davis has been a member of Anniston, Ala., Moose Family Center, Lodge 1669, for 27 years. He joked that he joined the lodge for all the wrong reasons.
In 1986, he was an Army Drill Sergeant stationed at Fort McClellan, Ala., with a mall community with a population of less than 30,000. When Davis would take his family out to dinner, he was constantly running into the soldiers he was charged with training, an uncomfortable situation for both parties who were trying to enjoy their off-duty hours away from the base.
“I would be out with my family and constantly having to make on-the-spot corrections. It was a very uncomfortable situation,” Davis said.
His solution was to join a private, family-oriented organization far away from the soldiers in training.
After Davis retired from the U.S. Army signed on with the CDP as a contractor in September 1999, a year after the center opened. For the past 10 years, Davis has served as the COBRA TF operations officer. As such, he coordinates the daily activities of 118-person COBRA staff in order to provide America’s first responders with first-class toxic agent training. The COBRA TF is the only facility in the nation where civilians can train with toxic chemical agents, GB (Sarin) and VX, as well as non-pathogenic biological agents, ricin and anthrax. From 2008 to 2012, the COBRA staff trained an average of 600 students each year, but in the 14 months between February 2012 and April 2013, the COBRA staff trained almost 1,800 students.
“Military research identified a long time ago that simulations do not build confidence like training with the real thing does,” Davis explained. “To train firefighters to fight fires, they train by fighting real fires. To train police officers to fire a weapon, they fire actual weapons. Training in a toxic environment builds the responders’ confidence in their personal protective equipment and their ability to respond in a toxic environment.”
But, being busy at work has not kept Davis from his public service duties. When Davis returned to Anniston, he also returned to the Loyal Order of Moose where he continues to be an active member. One of the LOOM’s core competencies is community service in order to make their communities better places in which to live. In the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2013, the LOM provided more than $11 million in cash donations and community service hours that would equal up to more than nearly $25 million.
Davis’s lodge provides monetary support from fund-raising efforts to support several charitable organizations. The Anniston Lodge members support the local community. One of the lodge’s events in which Davis is very active is the annual Valentine’s dinner and dance for members of the ARC, a local association that support mentally disabled adults. The lodge pays for and sets up the dinner/dance which is attended by more than 200 adults who have some varying degrees of retardation. “Many of those who attend live in group homes. The group home staff members drive them to the lodge for the dinner,” Davis explained. “We want to give them the opportunity to enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life.”
The lodge also provides financial support to women and children’s shelters, hosts an annual fishing derby that has going into its third decade, and provides assistance on an as-needed basis to individuals and families.
Davis is very active in raising money for United Cerebral Palsy by running the annual “road block” for the past 20 years. During the road block, members of the lodge stage at a designated road intersection and solicit donations for Cerebral Palsy from the passing motorists. Last year, the Anniston Lodge’s two-day efforts netted $4,000 for the organization.
It was Davis’s hard work on behalf of the order that earned him the Pilgrim Degree of Merit, a reward for dedication, commitment, and outstanding service to the order.