PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Two years ago, a couple stepped up and volunteered to serve a need in the community at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
After signing up to serve in military relations, Sister Pam Hammond and Elder Doug Hammond, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, moved to Colorado Springs from Utah.
Mission trips are part of the Hammonds’ faith as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, both as college students and as retirees, said Chaplain William Spencer, 21st Space Wing Chapel wing chaplain.
“A call went out to say, ‘We’ve got missionary couples at the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, we’d like to have some at Peterson, and they have to be retired military so they have base access,” Spencer said. “They responded to the call.”
The Hammonds moved so they could plan, purchase, prepare and serve meals for community dinners each month at the base chapel. In total, the couple has served more than 3,000 people through their community dinners since they started serving at the base.
“When they got here, it was not just, ‘How are we going to be part of the Latter-Day Saints faith group?’ Their heart was, ‘How can we serve the base in general?’” Spencer said. “Every month, the Hammonds planned the theme of the community dinner, planned the menu, did the shopping, did the cooking and blessed us with a meal.”
The Hammonds’ last night serving families at Peterson AFB was Oct. 4, 2018, when the couple received the volunteer of the year award from the base chapel and a plaque from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints mission president. Doug and Pam were also presented with a personal coin from Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander, for their two years of service.
“Their community dinners have created a forum for people to connect,” Spencer said. “This chapel functions as a community center in a lot of ways. It’s not just a place of worship, it’s really a gathering place for this base, so all kinds of events take place here.
“Their community dinners gave us an opportunity to linger longer and to come without an agenda other than to just say hi and see how each other are doing.”
From Sept. 12-21, 2018, the Hammonds were also able to serve Airmen at Thule Air Base, Greenland, where they prepared and served eight meals for the Airmen.
When Moore met the Hammonds at his first community dinner, Doug showed him the old, broken-down oven and refrigerator and requested that new appliances be purchased.
“What I love in leadership is boldness, and boy did he give me that,” said Moore, laughing. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the Hammonds have done for the community here.”
Doug and Pam said they loved being part of the Peterson AFB community and meeting everyone on base.
“I was surprised that food makes such a difference,” Pam said. “I thought, ‘What good am I doing? I’m just making food. How can that translate to making a difference or helping people?’ But food is a basic thing we all need. We watched over the time we’ve been here and we’ve seen people stay longer at the dinners to socialize and laugh. When we went to Thule AB it was such a big deal to those men and women over there.”
Having no prior military experience, Pam said she developed a better appreciation for the armed forces and the military. Having served as a hospital administrator for the Air Force for more than 20 years, Doug said it was great to connect with today’s Airmen while serving.
Doug and Pam, both in their second marriage, would like to visit Thule AB again in the future, but for now are returning to Utah to their combined 12 children and 45 grandchildren between their two families.