May 22, 2008

Fredericksburg unit holds Freedom Salute

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Col. William Phillips, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, shakes the hand of Sgt. Tyler T. Bate of A Company, 116th Special Troops Battalion at a Freedom Salute ceremony May 18 in Fredericksburg. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - A Company, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion conducted a Freedom Salute ceremony at the Virginia Army National Guard Armory in Fredericksburg, Va., on May 18 to honor the unit’s service in Iraq from March 2007 to February 2008.

The Soldiers and their families and friends packed the armory to celebrate the unit’s safe homecoming as they listened to speeches that applauded the Soldiers’ valor and recognized the unit’s service to country and Commonwealth.

“As we salute you, we salute freedom,” said Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall. “We don’t take for granted that on short notice you must leave your jobs and families behind to serve your country overseas.”

Of the 160 Soldiers who deployed with A Company, 32 Soldiers to Combat Support Center Cedar II near Talil Air Force Base, Iraq, came from 3rd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry.  During their time in Iraq, the Soldiers developed a close brotherhood.  The Freedom Salute marked the last time many would serve together in A company.

While in Iraq, A Company Soldiers conducted area presence patrols, route security patrols, civil military operations as well as base defense operations. Combat Action Badges were awarded to five Soldiers, and 19 Soldiers earned Bronze Star Medals.

“The job you did in Iraq can not be applauded enough,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., Virginia’s adjutant general. “It has become commonplace in the Guard to expect great things because of the example you set.”

Claduia White bestows on her husband, Spc. Gary M. White, a kiss along with a Defender of Freedom lapel win worn exclusively by Army National Guard Soldiers. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Soldiers of A Company humbly accepted the recognition but the overwhelming feeling of camaraderie and selfless-service permeated throughout the armory.

“It was four hours before I was supposed to go on leave when I spotted a component of an IED,” said Spc. Gregory A. Hey, who was awarded the Combat Action Badge. “My gunner confirmed that it was an IED. Had I not spotted it, we would have hit it. But this is not just my badge. I wear it for the 12 other guys on my team.  That’s what it’s about.”

Hey, who has been in the Virginia National Guard for the past three years, plans continue his service and to enroll at Germana Community College to study to be a law enforcement officer.

Sgt. Thomas C. Glass, a sniper, was awarded the Bronze Star for what he calls “plugging a breach in the wire.” 

“Eight men tried to breach the (forward operating base). I shot two of the men,” said Glass. “Suddenly, the rest of them had somewhere more important to be.”

Glass, a former semi-professional hockey player, works full-time for the Virginia National Guard.

Two Soldiers, who both deployed with the Virginia National Guard four times, were recognized for their dedication to duty. Since 2001, Sgt. Michael D Hardgrove, Jr. has deployed with Noble Eagle I and III, to Afghanistan and lately with A Company to Iraq. Sgt. Shawn L. Brown was deployed in Bosnia during Sept. 11, 2001, he has since deployed with Noble Eagle III, to Afghanistan and with A Company to Iraq.

Hardgrove, who has been with the Virginia National Guard for nine years, re-enlisted in Iraq and said he is trying to be college student and plans to retire from the Guard. Brown has been with the Guard for 11 years, re-enlisted during his deployment to Afghanistan.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers and those who supported them during the President's call to duty for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

As part of the ‘Freedom Salute’ campaign, each Soldier received an American flag in a wood display case, a Defender of Freedom certificate and commemorative coins and medallions. The Soldiers also awarded their spouses and supporters with medals and lapel pins that identified them as Guard team members.

The Combat Action Badge provides special recognition to Soldiers who personally engage the enemy, or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations. The bayonet and grenade are associated with active combat. The oak wreath symbolizes strength and loyalty.

The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration which may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. The medal is awarded to a member of the military who distinguished him- or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the 9th highest military award (including both combat and non -combat awards) in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations.

Combat Action Badge Awardees

Hometown

Sgt. Calvin M. Summerville.

Portsmouth, Va.

Sgt.   Tyler       T. Bate

Lousiville, Tenn.

Spc. Glibert L. Brown

King George, Va.

Spc. Gregory A. Hey

Stafford, Va.

Spc. James J. Proietti

Mechanicaville, Va

 

Bronze Star Awardees

Hometown

Capt. Ryan E. Thompson

Richmond, Va.

Capt. Lawrence G. Yacubian

Marshall, Va

1st Sgt. Shaun C Roach

Owing Mills, Md.

1st Lt. Johnathan P. Hicks

Herndon, Va.

1st Lt. Ryan P Miner

Herndon, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Derick D. Cottrell

Miami, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Houston L. Crayton

Mechanicsville, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy W. McLaughlin

Standardville, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Sigfredo Quiles

Marshall, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery S. Voelkel

Stephens City, Va.

Sgt. 1st Class Derrick W. Ward

Washington, D.C.

Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Beach

Warrenton, Va.

Staff Sgt. Sean T. Manis

Fredericksburg, Va.

Staff Sgt. Lewis E. Shadle

Midland, Va.

Sgt. Thomas C. Glass

Stafford, Va.

Sgt. Steven W. Jacobs

Pettle, Miss.

Sgt. Andrew S. Marcus

Springfield, Va.

Sgt. Chad M, Nelson

Ashburn, Va.

1st Lt. Joshua A. Wells

Fredericksburg, Va.

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