First Hometown Heroes Ceremony recognizes deployers and their families Published Dec. 21, 2009 By Staff Sgt. Ivyann Castillo 171st Public Affairs Jan. 2010 -- Over 300 unit members from the 171st Air Refueling Wing were recognized at the first Hometown Heroes Ceremony in the fuel hangar on the morning of December 6. This ceremony focused on those airmen who were deployed 30 to 179 consecutive days since September 11, 2001. In addition the deployed airmen's families were also recognized for their support. Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff, 171st ARW commander, hosted the event and stated how this ceremony is the "largest recognition in the Air National Guard honoring our airmen and their families who have sacrificed." One of the guest speakers, Maj. Gen. Stephen Sischo, Pennsylvania's deputy adjutant general for Air, continued on about the sacrifice our airmen made while serving in the Guard as he quoted the famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "Everyone has the opportunity to be great because anyone can serve." Sischo also thanked and gave his appreciation to the veterans, the families and the unit members, "the volunteer force who serves while others have the day off, fighting for our nation's freedom." Congressman Tim Murphy addressed the audience first by saying "on behalf of our nation, I wanted to say thank you, and we are greatly aware of your sacrifice." Acknowledging the holidays, Murphy continued by stating that the nation can enjoy blessings such as freedom during the holidays because of our airmen who put on the uniform to serve our country. The deployers received a letter of appreciation encased in a frame with the Hometown Heroes coin matted in the frame. The letter was signed by Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief National Guard Bureau and Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Smith, command chief of the Air National Guard. In addition, family members were given appreciation items such as a pen and pencil set for the spouses, dog tags for each member's child, both engraved with the Hometown Heroes Salute logo, as well as a center of influence medallion dedicated to an individual who impacted the unit member to serve in the Guard. After the presentations, the holiday party kicked off for airmen and their families to enjoy their time together, and the guest speakers took a tour of the installation. "This event is about community recognition regarding your service and saluting families and loved ones for their sacrifice," said Uptegraff.