Kentucky Air National Guard salutes Hometown Heroes

Story by Capt. John Stamm | Photos by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora and Maj. Dale Greer

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 28th, 2010) — Deployments are seldom easy. They exert substantial amounts of stress not only on the troops deploying, but also on the families and friends they leave behind.

On April 17, the Kentucky Air National Guard delivered a heart-felt “thank you” to the more than 900 men and women of the 123rd Airlift Wing who have deployed in support of combat operations since September 11, 2001.

That message, delivered during a “Hometown Heroes Salute” ceremony at Louisville Male High School, also recognized family members and key civic leaders for their support, including State Sen. David L. Williams and State Rep. Rocky Adkins.

Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, spoke at length during the ceremony about the essential contributions made by Guard and Reserve troops, which he called “tremendous.”
“We’ve been averaging about 140,000 members of the Guard and Reserve mobilized every day,” Secretary McCarthy told the audience of 300 Air Guardsmen, family and friends. “It’s a tremendous, tremendous contribution that the reserve components are making to the national security of our country. It has been going on for a long, long time, but we cannot continue unless we continue to have the support of our families and our employers.”

The Director of the Air National Guard sanctioned the ANG Hometown Heroes Salute program in August 2008. It provides Airmen with keepsakes in recognition of their service, including framed letters of appreciation and framed American flags. Spouses or significant others are eligible to receive engraved rosewood pen-and-pencil sets, and children receive commemorative dog tags with the HHS logo.

Each troop also receives a “Centers of Influence” medallion that they can present to whomever they choose to show gratitude for their support.

During the April 17 ceremony, Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, personally presented Centers of Influence awards to three civic leaders who have expressed continuous support of the Kentucky Air National Guard since 9/11: Senator Williams, Representative Adkins and Thunder Over Louisville Air Show producer Wayne Hettinger.

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