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Hometown Heroes Ceremony Honors Troops

Members of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Honor Guard present the flag during the opening ceremony of Hometown Heroes Salute at the 161st ARW, Phoenix, March 9, 2013. This is the fourth Annual event and is unique because it also recognizes Airmen’s families and others who do not wear the uniform, but who sacrifice nonetheless. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rashaunda Williams/Release)

Members of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Honor Guard present the flag during the opening ceremony of Hometown Heroes Salute at the 161st ARW, Phoenix, March 9, 2013. This is the fourth Annual event and is unique because it also recognizes Airmen’s families and others who do not wear the uniform, but who sacrifice nonetheless. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rashaunda Williams/Release)

Colonel Gary Brewer, 161st Air Fueling Wing Commander shakes the hand of Alanna Aguirre, daughter of Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre, during the Hometown Hero Salute ceremony, at the 161st ARW, Phoenix, March 9, 2013. Colonel Aguirre and 45 other wing members were recognized for their deployments of more than 30 days for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and all other contingency operations. This is the fourth Annual event and is unique because it also recognizes Airmen’s families and others who do not wear the uniform, but who sacrifice nonetheless. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rashaunda Williams/Released)

Colonel Gary Brewer, 161st Air Fueling Wing Commander shakes the hand of Alanna Aguirre, daughter of Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre, during the Hometown Hero Salute ceremony, at the 161st ARW, Phoenix, March 9, 2013. Colonel Aguirre and 45 other wing members were recognized for their deployments of more than 30 days for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and all other contingency operations. This is the fourth Annual event and is unique because it also recognizes Airmen’s families and others who do not wear the uniform, but who sacrifice nonetheless. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rashaunda Williams/Released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- The 161st Air Refueling Wing held its fourth Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony March 9, 2013. The award program was created by the Air National Guard to honor our Airmen who have deployed and to let them know that their service to our nation is truly appreciated.

The Air Guard's Hometown Heroes Salute campaign recognizes Airmen who have deployed since 9/11 as well their families and personal centers of influence, who supported them. It recognizes Airmen who deployed for more than 30 consecutive days for operations and contingency operations. It is one of the ANG's largest recognition endeavors in history, and is unique because it also recognizes Airmen's families and others who do not wear the uniform, but who sacrifice nonetheless.

Although local units have done an excellent job recognizing groups' deployments, some individual deployments have not received the proper recognition. This program hopes to bring to light the deployments of all Airmen involved.

At the ceremony members were formally presented their recognition items. Major General Hugo E. Salazar, the Adjutant General, Arizona National Guard, was the presiding officer of the ceremony.

Airmen are awarded with a three-tiered recognition system. Awards include: a cherry-wood encased letter of appreciation signed by the Air Guard's director and command chief, which is enclosed with a commemorative coin for deployments of 179 days or less, a framed American flag with inset coins for succeeding deployments of 180 days, and an eagle statuette for deployments more than 366 consecutive days.

In addition, spouses or significant others receive an engraved pen and pencil set and medallion. Each child receives engraved dog tags.

Operations that 161 ARW members have supported include deployments to Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Southwest Asia, Germany and many locations in the U.S. for natural disasters.