128 ARW Awards Guardsmen for Post-9/11 Service

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
The 128th Air Refueling Wing recognized 253 of its Airmen during a Hometown Heroes Salute award ceremony held at 1 pm on Saturday, Jan. 9, at Gen. Mitchell Air Field here.

Airmen, spanning the ranks from airman first class to colonel, were recognized for their post-Sept. 11, 2001, service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle.

Family members, fellow Airmen and senior leadership officials attended the ceremony, occupying nearly 1,000 seats in the main base hangar. The recipients received individualized wood-framed letters of appreciation and Centers of Influence medallions, both of which were made possible by the contributions of the National Guard Bureau.

The 253 Airmen were announced one at a time onto the stage, where they were received by Brig. Gen. Dunbar, Brig. Gen. McCoy and Col. Metzgar. Awards in hand, the recipients shared a handshake with the senior leadership officials before they turned to the assembled crowd, descended from the stage and returned to their seats in proud silence and united in their rewarded efforts.

"This is a small thing to do for the things (the Airmen of the 128 ARW) do for us," said Brig. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, the adjutant general.

Brig. Gen. John E. McCoy, the deputy adjutant general for Air, shared a similar viewpoint.

"We knew this was the right thing to do, to recognize people for their efforts," McCoy said.

Col. Ted Metzgar, the commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, said we are rarely all in one place at one time, and that it can be difficult to understand the commitment of the 128th's Airmen. Furthermore, he said Airmen commit to a large degree of time and effort that goes into being qualified for a military career, prepared for a full-time civilian job and ready for a worldwide deployment.

"I am very humbled by today's experience," Metzgar said.

The Hometown Heroes Salute program was started in August 2008 by the director of the Air National Guard. The director's goal was to celebrate and honor Airmen, families, communities and special supporters who have significantly contributed to fellow Airmen and to the ANG's mission.