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Hometown Hero Salute: SFS/ECS Troops are welcomed home, heroes are honored

July 2009 -- It was a packed hangar full of proud family members, children and community members and leaders as the 180th Fighter Wing welcomed home their returning deployed servicemembers and honored those who have deployed in the past in a combined ceremony here June 14, 2009. 

Approximately 30 personnel from the Security Forces Squadron were formally welcomed home from their deployment after seven months to the 64th Air Expeditionary Group at Eskan Village, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While in Saudi Arabia, the Security Forces members led the headquarters element to defend United States Air Force personnel and Army forces in Central Command from criminal and terrorist threats. 

Also welcomed home were the approximately 220 Airmen who returned in December, 2008 after their deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq, as a part of an Air Force Aerospace Expeditionary Forces rotation. These Airmen provided aerial support to military operations in the Global War on Terrorism throughtout the Central Command region. 

The ceremony was also a part of the ANG Hometown Heroes Salute recognition program that was sanctioned in August, 2008, by the Director Air National Guard. The purpose of this program is to celebrate our Airmen, families, communities and those special supporters who have significantly contributed to supporting our Airmen and the ANG's mission. The campaign seeks to honor what could be more than 70,000 current or former Citizen-Airmen nationwide who have deployed since 9/11. 

The Airmen honored at the ceremony were those approximately 500 members of the 180th FW who have deployed away from home station for 30 or more consecutive days on orders in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Noble Eagle and other contingency operations across the globe since September 11, 2001. 

Each member received a framed Letter of Appreciation signed by the ANG Director and Command Chief Master Sergeant. A Hometown Heroes Salute Coin is embedded in the frame along with the letter. Family members received an engraved pen and pencil set, and children of the Hometown Heroes received a set of dog tags. Community-employer based centers of influence were also recognized with a Hometown Heroes logo medallion for their extraordinary support of their Airmen when they deployed. 
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