MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The men and women in the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing will tell you it’s an honor just to serve, but it doesn’t hurt when special recognition is given.
More than 170 airmen who were deployed from their home base for more than 30 days and their family members who were burdened by it were honored Sunday during the second annual Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony.
The recognition program was sanctioned in 2008 by Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
The program celebrates and honors “airmen, families, communities and those special supporters who have significantly contributed to supporting ANG’s (Air National Guard) mission,” according to a 167th Airlift Wing news release.
“There is no greater honor than to serve, and when we recognize the men and women who do, it’s an equal feeling to honor them,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Alderton, wing command chief.
The airmen honored received a framed Hometown Heroes Salute coin, along with a letter of appreciation encased in a rosewood frame, he said.
Recognition gifts also were given to their spouses or significant others and their children, and a “center of influence” medallion was given to those who helped care for the families while the airmen were deployed, Alderton said.
Capt. James Freid-Studlo, a pilot with the 167th, was one of the airmen honored. He was in the U.S. Air Force for about seven years before joining the Air National Guard three years ago.
“We are part of the global war on terror, and we especially like to see the families involved in this,” he said.
Senior Airman Faith Grubb also was honored Sunday. She has been an Air National Guard member since 2007. Grubb, 24, is a loadmaster and a student at American Military University.
“It’s good that we honor those who serve in the war zones,” Grubb said.
Five airmen were recognized for outstanding performances, Alderton said. They were:
• Tech. Sgt. Charles Moore in the Airlift Squadron NCO category
• Master Sgt. John R. Cordova in the Security Forces Squadron Senior NCO category
• Master Sgt. Richard Reader in the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, first sergeant category
• Master Sgt. Marty Snider in the Honor Guard category
• Senior Airman Shawn D. Green in the Security Forces Airman category
Green also won the James Kemp McLaughlin Award and was chosen as the Outstanding Airman of the Year for West Virginia.
The special awards were not known by the recipients until Saturday night, Alderton said.
“It’s a great honor,” Green said after the ceremony.
About 600 airlift wing and family members attended the event held inside Hangar 305 on the 167th base outside Martinsburg.