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Cannon loses great friend, staunch supporter

PENTAGON (AFPN) -- Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John D.W. Corley presents Ernest O. Stewart with the Air Force's nomination for the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award during a ceremony here Jan. 23. Established in 1996, the award honors an individual or organization demonstrating exceptional patriotism and humanitarian concern for members of the U.S. armed forces or their families. Each service branch annually submits nominees. Mr. Stewart, the Air Force's 2005 nominee for the award, is an active civic leader for Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and has supported the Air Force more than 50 years. The Fisher House Foundation annually supports more than 8,500 military families of unexpected illness, disease or injury. (U.S. Air Force photo Ron Hall)

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John D.W. Corley presents Ernest O. Stewart with the Air Force's nomination for the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award during a ceremony here Jan. 23. Mr. Stewart, the Air Force's 2005 nominee for the award, is an active civic leader for Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and has supported the Air Force more than 50 years.

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Cannon Air Force Base bids farewell to long-time friend, Ernest O. “Doc” Stewart, 81, who died Monday from pulmonary failure. 

Three memorial services will commemorate the life of Doc Stewart. The first was held at the chapel at Cannon Thursday morning. Family and friends gathered for a funeral service at Central Baptist Church in Clovis later in the day, which included a 21-gun salute. The third is a military burial service that will be at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery next week. 

“The men and women of Cannon Air Force Base are deeply saddened by the passing of Ernest ‘Doc’ Stewart. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stewart family during this difficult time. Doc was a true friend and supporter of Cannon and the Airmen and families that have been stationed here over the last 50 years. His genuine concern for this military community has left a lasting mark, not only on Cannon, but also on the entire Air Force – it is a legacy which will not soon be forgotten,” said Col. John Posner, 27th Fighter Wing Commander. 

Doc made contributions by helping secure real estate needed to build 250 military family housing units at Chavez Manor. He played a major role in acquiring funds to build an overpass over a major New Mexico highway and railway route, improving quality of life for Cannon personnel. He served tirelessly until his death on behalf of Cannon and the surrounding community. 

Doc also helped obtain congressional approval for Cannon to build a waste water treatment plant providing the base with the capability to recycle up to 800,000 gallons of water per day. 

The Air Combat Command Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award was awarded to Doc at a ceremony at the Pentagon earlier this year in recognition of the many things Doc had done to support the Air Force and Cannon. 

In a public radio address Monday, New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici called Doc a “very, very distinguished New Mexican,” adding “we have lost a great friend.”