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Hometown heroes recognized

More than 200 service members were recognized as hometown heroes during a ceremony on Dec. 4 at the Army Aviation Support Facility.

More than 200 service members were recognized as hometown heroes during a ceremony on Dec. 4 at the Army Aviation Support Facility.

Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- More than 200 service members were recognized as hometown heroes during a ceremony on Dec. 4 at the Army Aviation Support Facility. Those honored served active-duty for a minimum of 30 days between Sept. 11 , 2001 and Dec. 31, 2008.

"The Air National Guard created a program to recognize unit members, their families, and their employers, for the sacrifices that have been made since 2001. In total, more than 25 percent of the 104th Fighter Wing's Guardsmen have deployed overseas for 90 days or more since 2001," said Chief Master Sgt. Al Reale, 104th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt.

At the ceremony, Airmen and their supporters received several special items. They were given a letter of appreciation signed by the Chief, National Guard Bureau, General Craig R. McKinley and the Command Chief of the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Smith, in recognition of their service and sacrifice in the cause of freedom. The letters were presented in personalized, rosewood frames with individual airman's names and the hometown heroes salute coin mounted of the frame. The coin features different graphics that symbolize the watchful, steadfast posture and the sacrifice of the Air National Guard.

"It was my honor to stand on the stage and recognize the hometown heroes from this unit. The members and their families deserve many thanks for their tireless contributions to this nation, specifically in support of the oversea contingencies following the events of Sept 11", said Col Robert T. Brooks, wing commander.

The ceremony also focused on the many family members who have proudly served as supporters of the guardsmen and of the ANG mission. Ceremony officials emphasized the importance of family support and expressed appreciation for the role family plays in what service members do.

"It meant a lot to me to have my family recognized with me", said Senior Master Sgt. James Brown, Force Support Squadron. "They did a lot to support my efforts overseas, this ceremony was a nice way for me to say thank you as well."