127th Wing honors hundreds of deployers

  • Published
  • By Capt. Penny Carroll
  • 127th Public Affairs
Hundreds of airmen, family members and community support  - or centers of influence - gathered today in a aircraft hangar on the base's west side to commemorate some of the 127th Wing's Citizen-Airmen for their service while deployed for more than 30 consecutive days for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and all other contingency operations.

Those honored in today's Welcome Home Hero Salute included airmen of the 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 127th Maintenance Squadron, the 127th Maintenance Group, The 127th Maintenance Operations Flight, the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron, and the 127th Medical Group.  Airmen who had retired since their deployment also were recognized during the event. It is the second such ceremony the 127th Wing has held this year.

"Because we're such a large Air National Guard wing with so many deployers we've had to break down the initial Welcome Home Salutes by grouping various squadrons' events quarterly so that the ceremony doesn't get too long and the airmen still feel welcomed home," said 127th Family Readiness Group Director Mrs. Deb Schroeder.

The new Air National Guard program will first recognize every eligible Airman who has deployed since 9/11. They will receive a cherry wood encased letter of appreciation signed by former Air Guard director, Gen. Craig. R. McKinley, now chief of the National Guard Bureau, and the Air Guard's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Smith, enclosed with a commemorative coin. Spouses will also receive a "Hometown Heroes Salute"-engraved pen and pencil set, and their children will receive a set of personalized dog tags. Airmen can also decide on a "center of influence" in their community and present that person or organization with a special medallion of appreciation.

A complete, three-tiered recognition system will start in 2010 that, in addition to a letter signed by the current Air Guard director and command chief, will award a framed American flag with inset coins for succeeding deployments of 180-365 consecutive days, and an eagle statuette with inset coins for deployments more than 366 consecutive days.

"It's important to recognize not only these citizen-airmen for their service abroad, but also to recognize the supporting community that surrounds our families while we're deployed," said Brig. Gen. Michael Peplinski, 127th Wing commander, at the beginning of the ceremony marked with a Civil Air Patrol Honor Guard and patriotic songs delivered by community members.

"It doesn't go unnoticed when you're thousands of miles away from home that your family is being taken care of," said Peplinski. "I thank you all for your service."

The 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard provides trained, equipped, and motivated air refueling, fighter and support resources to the community, the state of Michigan, and the nation.  The 127th Wing flies and supports both the A-10 Thunderbolt II of the Air Combat Command mission, and the KC-135 Stratotanker of the Air Mobility Command Mission.  The unit also supports Air Force Special Operations Command through the 107th Weather Flight.