An unidentified U.S. soldier in Kandahar, Afghanistan, fills an inflatable pool donated by employees at Lochinvar Corp. to help stationed soldiers beat the heat. The pool was just one of many items the company had donated over the last year and a half to soldiers overseas.

For its support of U.S. soldiers stationed overseas, Lochinvar Corp. was named one of the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipients.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. The award was to be presented to Lochinvar and 14 other employers at a formal ceremony Sept. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

This year, a record number of National Guard and Reserve members or their family nominated their employers for outstanding support. A selection board comprised of senior Defense Department officials reviewed the submissions and selected the recipients for the award.

Included among the 2,199 nominations was a letter from William M. Jacobs, a manufacturing engineering manager at Lochinvar and a sergeant in the Tennessee Army National Guard.

In his letter, Jacobs expressed his gratitude for Lochinvar’s generosity and support that touched him, his unit and task force, as well as many others in the military.

“Before, during and after my 16-month deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, I’ve watched proudly as Lochinvar, its ownership and employees have dedicated time, money and resources without hesitation to help support the citizen soldiers and full-time service members,” stated Jacobs. “Words cannot express how much it means for me to be part of this organization, or the positive impact Lochinvar had and continues to have on the soldiers and service members of Tennessee and the United States of America.”

When Jacobs’ unit sent a long list of requested items, Lochinvar employees fulfilled each request, including 200 pounds of top soil, grass seed and fertilizer to build the only plot of grass in Kandahar, which was enjoyed by soldiers.

A library was created with the shipments of books and DVDs, which were made available to all of the soldiers. In an attempt to bring seasonal gifts to the troops, a holiday shipment brought the soldiers cards, wrapped presents and a decorated 6-foot Christmas tree, and a summer shipment delivered inflatable pools to help fight the heat.

In addition to helping the troops, one Lochinvar employee’s daughter even organized a drive at her high school to gather small stuffed animals for the children of Afghanistan. The stuffed animals were sent to a field hospital and given to injured children in an effort to lift their spirits.

“All of us at Lochinvar take great pride in our employees and their families who serve in the United States military, and we aim to support them in any way possible,” said Bill Vallett Jr., president of Lochinvar Corp. “I’m so impressed with the generosity of each of our employees who stepped up and helped make a difference. The Freedom Award honors the outstanding efforts of each and every one of them.”