Hometown Heroes Salute Program Published April 15, 2010 By 2nd Lt. Anthony J. Lesterson 127th Wing Public Affairs Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. -- Forty seven Airmen and their families were recognized for their service and support during deployments following Sept. 11, 2001, here on April 11 as part of a recently initiated nationwide Air National Guard program. Approximately 1,200 Airmen from the 127th Wing have deployed since 9-11 in support of operations at home and abroad, such as to Hurricane Katrina, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are now entitled to be recognized along with family members and select others. These Airmen receive a letter of appreciation signed by General Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and the ANG Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Smith, encased in a decorative frame along with a commemorative coin. Spouses receive an engraved pen set and children receive a set of Hometown Hero dog tags. A special medallion of appreciation is available for presentation to employers or other people who are considered a center of influence of the deploying Airman. "We gave out almost 50 awards today and still have around 1,150 more to give out. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will get it done because our Airmen and their families deserve it," said Deborah Schroeder, 127th Family Readiness Center Director. Other organizations volunteer their services with various contributions to help make the ceremony a special event. Jim Van Tiem, VFW Post 7573, New Baltimore gave thanks on behalf of his organization for every Airmen's service to their country. Girl Scout Troop 662 members recited a commemorative poem to show continued appreciation for each Airman. Music was played by the Clinton Valley Assembly of God with traditional patriotic songs, followed by the invocation from Pastor Randy Merren. Food and refreshments were provided after all were recognized. 127th Wing members are continuously tasked by both state and federal missions. Each Airman's contribution along with family and community support is crucial to continued success in completing mission requirements and supporting various vital operations worldwide. During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Michael L. Peplinski, 127th Wing commander, took a short break from presenting the awards to receive recognition as well. "I am thankful for each and every one of these Airmen, their families and those who give us support," said Peplinski. The ceremony marked a moment of recognition, but was also a festive event to celebrate the accomplishments of numerous Airmen, family members and other supporters. All 127th Wing members are encouraged to attend the events to support their peers and fellow patriots while being properly recognized for service to their country. Many wing members will deploy, often returning in small numbers; therefore missing out on a proper homecoming. To learn more about the program or request recognition for those whom have shown support contact the 127th Family Readiness Office at 586-239-5583 or Visit the Hometown Hero Salute web page at https://airguard.ang.af.mil/HometownHeroesSalute.