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Press Release
December 13, 2009
Hometown Heroes Salute honors local citizen-airmen, families
 
PORTLAND, Ore. - Airmen from Oregon Air National Guard, along with family members and local civic leaders, were honored during a ceremony at the 142nd Fighter Wing, Dec. 13.

The Hometown Heroes Salute program pays tribute to thousands of citizen-airmen throughout the Air National Guard for their service since the attacks of Sept. 11.

Family members, and local civic leaders braved the frigid temperatures and icy streets to witness the ceremony at the Rosenbaum Hangar located on the west end of the Portland Air Base.

The program was initiated by the National Guard Bureau for Air National Guard units across the nation. It recognizes airmen who have been on orders for more than 30 consecutive days for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and other contingency operations.

Brig. Gen. Bruce W. Prunk, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, said with the increase in overseas assignments, some airmen are seeing two or three successive deployments.

"Today is a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions of the airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing," Prunk said.

Prunk said while the program recognizes the service of Oregon's citizen-airmen, it is also a chance to thank the families and surrounding communities for their support.

"The Oregon Air National Guard is seeing some of the largest deployments since WWII," he said. "It's wonderful to recognize the sacrifices of our airmen, their families, employers and communities."

One of the coordinators of the event, Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Max White, said the national program is designed to recognize airmen during a formal ceremony held at the wing level. Most importantly, White said, the program focuses on the support of airmen by their families and the communities in which they live.

"Without the families' support, we could not be successful," White said of his fellow airmen.

Looking less like a military ceremony and more like a high school graduation, each airman made their way across the stage after their name was called. They were congratulated by Brig. Gen. Prunk; 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Michael E. Stencel; State Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Russell, and Chief White.

The honorees received a framed letter of appreciation, a commemorative coin, a Global War on Terror ribbon, and a framed copy of the Airman's Creed.
Their spouses received a carved rosewood pin, and a pair of engraved dog tags for any children. They could also designate another individual who acts as a "center of influence". They would receive a special Hometown Heroes Salute medallion.

Tech. Sgt. Misti Gremaud, an accounting technician with the 142nd Fighter Wing, said it was nice to have her husband Mick, who returned home in August from a deployment to Iraq with the 142nd Security Forces Squadron, recognized in front of the large group.

"It's a nice program, and the right thing to do," Gremaud said. "To my knowledge, it's something that's never been done before."

Oregon's citizen-airmen who are currently on deployment, or who were not present at the ceremony will be recognized at a future event. For more information on the program, visit the National Guard Bureau website at:
http://www.ng.mil/news/archives/2009/04/040709-Hometown.aspx.  


Photo:
091213-F-8260H-001: Oregon Air National Guard Staff Sergeants Nicholas Menard and Jon Hayes of the 142nd Civil Engineer Squadron, pose for a photograph with Brig.Gen. Bruce W. Prunk, Commander Oregon Air National Guard, during the Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony held at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Dec. 13. The Hometown Heroes Salute is an Air National Guard program which recognizes citizen-airmen who were deployed for a period of more than 30 consecutive days in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Public Affairs Department)
 
Contact Info: Tech. Sgt. Greg Neuleib: 971-678-8541 or 503-335-4351, or via e-mail at: greg.neuleib@ang.af.mil