By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. smith
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. - A new Air National Guard recognition program that will honor thousands of Citizen-Airmen for their service has launched a Web site.
Getting online information about the Air Guard’s Hometown Heroes Salute campaign to its units is the next step in recognizing what could be nearly 80,000 Air Guard members who have deployed since 9/11, said Linda Brooks, the campaign’s program manager.
The Web site launched April 1 provides ordering information, criteria and other Hometown Heroes Salute Campaign content and contacts.
It also provides background and briefings on the campaign, which has been described as the largest recognition endeavor in Air Guard history.
The Air National Guard announced the Hometown Heroes Salute Campaign to its senior leaders last fall.
In cooperation with the states, it will recognize Airmen who deployed for more than 30 consecutive days for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and all other contingency operations.
The Web site helps the states and territories initiate the awards process, said Brooks.
The campaign 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.
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.
Brooks said the campaign is on track to hold its first award ceremony in mid-May. “There are probably about 60 units that we are processing now,” she said.
“This [Web site] is their tool to request these awards from a nationwide campaign that recognizes our Airmen for their service and what they continue to do for their nation, states and communities.”