Former Miss America speaks at UT ANG's Interfaith Devotional

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The 151st Air Refueling Wing hosted the 5th Annual Interfaith Devotional at the Utah Air National Guard base Feb. 10, featuring motivational guest speaker, and former Miss America 1985, Sharlene Wells Hawkes.

During her speech, "Building and Sustaining Faith," Hawkes illustrated the similarities between faith and military training by giving a personal example.

In 2009, Hawkes said she traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan on a "handshake tour" with the United Services Organization (USO). There Hawkes spoke with a soldier who recently survived a lengthy firefight with Al Qaeda insurgents. She asked him where he found the courage to fight. The soldier replied that he did not feel courageous, that he was scared to death, but he was trained to react with courage.

"That's why you do so many repetitive things in training," said Hawkes. "Because it's so important to constantly know what you're supposed to do so when all Hell breaks loose, and you're not thinking, that you automatically react. There are so many similarities between courage and faith. Why do we have so many repetitive lessons in church? Why are we asked to do so many repetitive things on a daily basis that will build our faith? So that when everything is out of our control, we know how to react."

"Building and sustaining faith, it starts with training to react with faith," continued Hawkes. "We have stronger faith when we put our trust in trustworthy places. You have to be able to put your trust in God."

Hawkes concluded by thanking the 100 plus Guard members in attendance for their faith and service.

"I pray that God's choicest blessings will be on you and your families. To strengthen you and strengthen your faith, when you need it the most, when everything is out of your control and when there is something to fear around every corner. I pray that the faith of this core group right here will be enough to sustain our country in war-tough times ahead. The rest of us really do lean on you. The 99 percent of us can't do what you do. So I thank you very much for your valiant service and the faith that you already have on our behalf."

Audience members expressed appreciation for Hawkes' message.

"I really enjoyed the speech because Hawkes connected courage and faith together. The tie that faith and courage have together can help strengthen our resiliency and lead us as Airmen through situations we have to face," said State Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Edwards, who attended the morning devotional.

Chaplain, Lt. Col. Bruce Brewer, agreed with Edwards.

"Hawkes' personal examples of faith made her message warm and engaging for the audience." said Brewer.

Among her many accomplishments, Hawkes is a former award-winning sports reporter, motivational speaker, author of several books, graduate of Brigham Young University and founder of Project Gratitude. Hawkes, a Centerville, Utah resident, is also a wife and mother of four children.