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103rd Airlift Wing Salutes Hometown Heroes

Conn. Air National Guard’s State Command Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Coppinger addresses a formation of the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Flying Yankees during a Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony held in the main hangar at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Dec. 5, 2009.  The ceremony was part of a national program designed to recognize the men and women who had been previously called to active-duty service for more than 30 consecutive days since Sept. 11, 2001.  (U.S. Air Force image by Master Sgt. Michelle Thomas)

Conn. Air National Guard’s State Command Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Coppinger addresses a formation of the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Flying Yankees during a Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony held in the main hangar at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Dec. 5, 2009. The ceremony was part of a national program designed to recognize the men and women who had been previously called to active-duty service for more than 30 consecutive days since Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Air Force image by Master Sgt. Michelle Thomas)

BRADLEY ANG BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Members of the Conn. Air National Guard gathered Dec. 5, 2009, to honor and recognize more than 550 men and women who deployed in support of overseas contingency operations.

Connecticut's Hometown Heroes are Airmen previously called to active-duty service for more than 30 consecutive days since Sept. 11, 2001.

"What we're doing today is catching up from 2001 to about 2008. The plan going forward is to do this every year to recognize deployers and their families," said Col. Frank N. Detorie, commander, 103rd Airlift Wing.

"Along with the deployers, 400 children, more than 500 family members and countless friends were recognized for their unyielding support for the Global War on Terrorism," said Conn. Air National Guard's State Command Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Coppinger.  

"It is not only the Airmen in formation before you that contributed to fighting the Global War of Terror, but also: the patriotism, the bravery, strength, resilience and unyielding support of every spouse, significant other, child, family member, friend and community member that has allowed them to perform their duties," said Coppinger.

"That support network lets us do what we need to do, especially when we deploy," said Detorie, referring to the family members of deployers.

"I think they are often overlooked, especially in the terms of sacrifices they make, when we deploy," Detorie said.

"Whether it's the hot water heater going two days after we deploy or the soccer games we can't make, we know how tough it is at home, and today's ceremony is a part of recognizing that," he said.

"One of the things you're going to be struck with when you go pick up your hometown salute award," said Detorie, "is the quality of the thing. It's a big, heavy, well made, rosewood plaque that really acknowledges the service of deployers and their families."

The plaque itself is adorned with hometown hero salute coins and personalized with the Airman's name. Additionally, it is signed by Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig R. McKinley and the former Command Chief of the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Smith.

"But the big takeaway today, is acknowledgement of your families," Detorie said.