U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's visit to West Central Louisiana on Monday included the presentation of a special award to the leader of the Apple Pie Brigade, a group that greets soldiers deploying or coming back home with warm apple pies.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's visit to West Central Louisiana on Monday included the presentation of a special award to the leader of the Apple Pie Brigade, a group that greets soldiers deploying or coming back home with warm apple pies.

Cassidy and Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese presented Sara Simmonds, who will turn 97 this month, with the award at a luncheon in Leesville hosted by FPP and various area chambers of commerce.

Simmonds was described by Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce President Deborah Randolph as someone who "puts words into actions."

"Her true passion in life is service to soldiers and their families," Randolph said. "She and her volunteers are on hand for all deployments, no matter the time of day or night."

Simmonds said she was humbled to receive the award.

"It's a privilege to be in the process of sending them off when the soldiers leave to go to Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever, and it's such a privilege to welcome them back," she said. "When a soldier tells us that this is their third or fourth time, and that they are glad to do it, and that they want to do it, it just makes us feel so good, but so small. We're doing so little to say thank you."