With his wife, Marci, at his side, Chuck White was out at six in the morning July 4 placing 80 flags around town as a volunteer for the Kiwanis Club of Hays.

“My wife helps me with my route,” said White of the Kiwanis fundraiser, which he says is one of his favorites being he’s a patriotic Marine veteran. “It takes us about an hour and a half.”

Things like that are why Madison White nominated her dad for the All American Citizen Award as part of the city’s four-day 25th Annual Wild West Festival, which started Wednesday evening and ended Saturday night.

“He is a terrific person, a real Patriot, a huge asset to our community and is so deserving of this award and recognition,” wrote Madison in her comments on the nomination form.

White is a detective with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department, where’s he’s worked since 1990. A native of Hays and the only boy in a family of four sisters, he graduated from Hays High in 1986.

“Volunteerism and playing a good role in your community is one of the more important things you can do,” White said. “I really think I owe my parents a lot for trying to stay on the right side of life and giving back to my community.”

After high school, White at 18 joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving during the Persian Gulf War.

He’s not sure what prompted him to join, other than perhaps an uncle, who served in the Navy, and a great uncle, who was a war hero in World War II.

“My military service was really unremarkable, I went where they told me to go and I did what they told me to do,” said White. “What I did learn was a strong sense of duty and commitment, and that I’m obligated to give back to my community because I’ve had such a good life here.”

Going to work for the sheriff’s department, he specialized in drug investigations and was on the drug enforcement unit for 20 years until 2014. In the early 2000s, he started specializing in child and elder abuse investigations.

White met his wife at the wedding of a friend. She is a social worker. They celebrate 25 years together this August.

“So I ended up marrying my best friend,” he said. “I adore her.”

Including White, there are now 51 winners of the All American Citizen Award since it was launched in 1997. There are sometimes multiple winners in one year.

White and his wife rode in the Wild West Fest’s “Freedom at it’s Best” Main Street Parade on Saturday morning. He was presented the award onstage Saturday before the final concert of the festival.

“I don’t know that there’s a better community to grow up in, than Hays,” White said.