HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Langston Pope has served his country for the last 17 years.
Pope never expected major accolades for his work.
"Don't expect anything back in return, that's what we do," Pope said.
Pope embarked on four deployments overseas. He's currently based in Huntington Park recruiting and training future soldiers.
Pope's colleagues describe him as an extraordinary and selfless leader in the Huntington Park community.
"Whether it's through coaching, mentoring, counseling or just being there as a big brother," Army 1st Sgt. Anthony Ball said.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Morris Tate said Pope often works on his off time to mentor local kids with economic disadvantages.
"He goes out and takes them to school if they don't have transportation sometimes. Picking them up, taking them to go get something to eat," Tate said.
"He does things we don't ask of him," Tate continued. "I'm honored to serve with him, I really am."
Annie Nelson is founder of a veteran's assistance non-profit called the American Soldier Network.
Nelson meets veterans almost every day, but said Pope is especially impressive.
"He gives 24/7. He gives in uniform. He gives out of uniform and he's a stand up guy," Nelson said. "He goes out in the community and he really goes above and beyond with the kids that really need a dad in an area that doesn't really have a lot of dads."
ABC7's "Pay it Forward" campaign surprised Nelson with the opportunity to give Pope $500.
"Seriously? No way. We're going to give this to him!" Nelson exclaimed.
She surprised Pope inside the Army Career Center in Huntington Park.
"You are not only an outstanding soldier, but you go above and beyond in the community more than anybody that your peers know," Nelson said.
"You just pay it forward to all those that you meet. So it's our turn to pay it forward to you. On this Veterans Day, through the lovely gift of Channel 7 and ABC News we'd like to pay it forward to you," Nelson added.
Pope looked stunned.
"I'm shocked. I'm speechless. I thank you the community and thank you for the wonderful gift," he said.
Pope is a single father and plans on using the $500 to buy Christmas gifts for his 4-year-old daughter.
"It means a lot. It put a huge smile on my face," he said.
Pope hopes his story encourages everyone to pay it forward.
"Always give out of the kindness of your heart, go above and beyond and don't expect anything in return," said Pope.
Nelson hopes it serves as a reminder to thank veterans. "If everyone could go out in the community and find a hero and pay it forward every day," she said.
ABC7 Pay It Forward: Army veteran honored for extraordinary service
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