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Hometown Heroes Ceremony Honors Troops

Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- The 161st Air Refueling Wing held its third Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony Dec. 04. 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 Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Hurricane Katrina and all other 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. General Brigadier General Michael G. Colangelo, Assistant Adjutant General - Air, Arizona National Guard, was the presiding officer of the ceremony.

A three-tiered recognition system awards Airman with a framed American flag with inset coins for succeeding deployments of 180 to 365 consecutive days, and an eagle statuette for deployments more than 366 consecutive days.

During the recognition ceremonies, Airmen are awarded a cherry-wood encased letter of appreciation signed by the Air Guard's director and command chief, which is enclosed with a commemorative coin.

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

Operations that EADS members have supported include deployments to Manas Air Base in Kyrgystan; Guam, Spain, Libya, Balad Air Base in Iraq; Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan; Southwest Asia, and many locations in the U.S. for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.