February 14, 2008

Freedom Salute honors Red Dragons for Kosovo duty

By Spc. Geoff Dudley
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall was on hand at the Freedom Salute Feb. 10 to honor the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Rergiment for their service in Kosovo from July 2006 to November 2007. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Friends, family members and community supporters gathered Feb. 10 in Lynchburg for a Freedom Salute to honor the “Red Dragons” of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment for their service in Kosovo from July 2006 to November 2007.

The Freedom Salute is a ceremony that is held to acknowledge the mission of the Guardsmen and women called to duty.  

“An award is a small token of what we can recognize in our Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Lapthe C. Flora, the commander of 1st Batalion, 116th Infantry. “They need to be recognized for not only doing their job but also going above the call of duty,”

The purpose of the Freedom Salute is also to offer a venue for the Soldiers to thank their friends, family members and employers for their sacrifice while their fathers, mothers, sons, or daughters were away defending freedom.

“Family support helps us quite a bit to do our job,” explained Flora. “We need the encouragement.”

On hand at the event to offer their support and thanks were Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall, as well as Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia.
 
“You’ve represented us well as Americans and as Virginians,” Newman told the Soldiers.

Each Red Dragon was presented with awards and gifts including a commemorative coin, a framed United States flag (each of which flew over the Pentagon), and two service pins.  One pin was for the Soldier and the other for each Soldier’s family member. 

Family members received clocks symbolizing the time spent apart from their loved one. Soldiers also received a “Future Soldier Foot Locker Kit” to present to their children. 

While in Kosovo, the Red Dragons performed peacekeeping missions and also provided humanitarian relief by repairing roadways and rebuilding schools.

 

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, was also on hand to recognize the "Red Dragons" for their service. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

 

A Freedom Salute honors not only the Soldiers, but their family members, friends and employers who supported them from back home while they were overseas. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

 

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