A Hometown Heroes' Welcome

  • Published
  • By SrA Mindy Bloem
  • 147 Reconnaissance Wing
Members of 147th Reconnaissance Wing Joint Reserve Base, TX., held a ceremony in Ellington's main hangar Dec. 3 to honor its hometown heroes.

The ceremony recognized those who have recently returned from an overseas deployment.

Among the hundreds receiving awards for their actions while deployed, four were recipients of the illustrious Bronze Star medal.

The purpose of the Hometown Heroes program is to honor both Airmen and their families by awarding gifts according to a three-tier structure.

During the ceremony, 16 people received Tier 1 awards, and 92 received Tier 2 awards.

The Tier 1 winners received framed "Hometown Heroes" coins with letters of appreciation. Their families also received engraved pen/pencil sets, logo dog tags, and a center of influence logo medallions.

Tier 2 award winners received framed American flags. Their families received logo charm bracelets or logo lapel pins, logo navy cinch sacks, and center of influence logo medallions.

Congressman Pete Olson, of the 22nd Congressional District, was the keynote speaker for the event.

As a former Navy aviator, the Congressman understands firsthand how it feels to be deployed and wanted to convey that message to his audience.

"You can't say thank you enough to these men and women who are willing to be separated from their family - sometimes for a year - to take the battle to people who want to harm us, and they're doing a tremendous job," the Congressman said. "In our country, we have not had a terrorist attack on our soil since Sept. 11 - that's because of people like the 147th here in
Houston who are willing to grab a weapon, stand on that line and protect us from people who want to harm us."

One audience member, Airman 1st Class Tanner Haupt, part of the 147 RW Aircraft Maintenance Squadron for almost a year, can't wait for his turn.

"It's great that we recognize the heroes we have here, and it's important because people need to understand what we do here," he said. It's not for everybody, but the people who do it need to get recognized because it's a big deal. It would make me feel good. I'd love to deploy and come back and get one of these awards."

Lt. Col. David Salva, 147th RW Logistics Readiness Squadron, one of the hometown heroes recognized who's deployed many times throughout his 36-year career, said he enjoyed seeing families get some well-deserved recognition.

"My first deployment was 1975 with the Army," the colonel recalled. "There was no Hometown Heroes or much recognition of the support required from the family. So on my final deployment, it's just amazing to me how much we now do to recognize the contribution of the family. It's just so critical that the deploying members get the support of their families, and this is just a great way to recognize that family support and integrate it all in one presentation."

Perhaps the Congressman put it best when he said: "We can't say enough how much we love you and appreciate your sacrifice and your service."