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National Guard salutes 178 FW 'Hometown Heroes'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amy Adducchio
  • 178th Fighter Wing
     The Air National Guard honored approximately 50 178th Fighter Wing members and their families at a Hometown Heroes Salute Sept. 12 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1031 located in Springfield. 

     These members are part of 250 178th Fighter Wing members and 70,000 citizen-Airmen who have deployed for 30 or more consecutive days, serving in a contingency operation, since Sept. 11, 2001. 

     The event was attended by Congressman Steve Austria, Ohio's 7th Congressional District; Representative Robert Hackett, Ohio's 10th Senate District; the Honorable Warren Copeland, mayor for the City of Springfield; and Col. Mike Roberts, commander of the 178th Fighter Wing. 

     "We're very proud of the men and women in the 178th; they do an outstanding job," said Congressman Austria. "It's important that we as a community recognize their sacrifice. Yesterday we remembered the victims of 9/11...Today, the men and women of the 178th are the heroes." 

     Representative Hackett, Mayor Copeland, Colonel Roberts, Jerry Heck, who is the VFW Post 1031 commander, and Brandon Meyer, who represented Congressman Austria, spoke to those in attendance. Each expressed their thanks to these servicemembers and their families. 

     "A grateful Springfield community says 'thank you,'" said Mayor Copeland. 

     Colonel Roberts called these servicemembers "true patriots," "true American heroes," and "great defenders of the constitution." 

     178th Hometown Hero members received an encased letter of appreciation and commemorative coin from Maj. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, who is the Air National Guard director, and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Smith, who is the former command chief for the Air National Guard. 

     The Hometown Heroes Salute also honored their families, communities and employers. Spouses received a Hometown Heroes Salute engraved pen and pencil set and their children received a set of personalized dog tags. The Hometown Heroes additionally received a special medallion of appreciation for each to present to a center of influence in their community. 

     "I would put the Ohio National Guard and the 178th up against any other National Guard [unit] in the nation," said Congressman Austria.
     The National Guard plans to hold a Hometown Heroes Salute next year to honor servicemembers who will have deployed for 30 or more consecutive days after June 2009.