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Hometown Heroes, top performers honored at dual ceremony

The 162nd Fighter Wing honors members who deployed after Sept. 11, 2001, during a Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony at the Arizona Air National Guard base at Tucson International Airport. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

The 162nd Fighter Wing honors members who deployed after Sept. 11, 2001, during a Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony at the Arizona Air National Guard base at Tucson International Airport. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Local media outlets, Guardsmen, families, friends, and distinguished visitors packed Hangar 10 at the Tucson Air Guard station for the 162nd Fighter Wing's 2010 Annual Awards ceremony and the unit's first Hometown Heroes Salute here November 6.

(Click here for photos from the Hometown Heroes Salute)

This first iteration of the Hometown Heroes Salute was presented to wing members who deployed between 2001 and 2008 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom.

The celebrations began prior to the ceremony when spouses, significant others, children, and individuals who are considered "centers of influence" for the service members were presented awards by wing leadership.

A rosewood pen and pencil set with the Hometown Heroes Salute logo engraved was presented to each Airman's spouse or significant other. Dog tags with the logo engraved were presented to each child. A special center of influence medallion was also presented to each family that supported a deployed wing member during their extended absence.

Each Guardsman who deployed was presented during the ceremony with a special letter of appreciation, encased in a rosewood frame, with a Hometown Heroes Salute coin mounted on the frame, personalized with the Airman's name. The letter was signed by the Chief, National Guard Bureau, and Command Chief of the Air National Guard.

The Arizona Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, was a distinguished guest during the Annual Awards ceremony and addressed the audience prior to the presentation of Hometown Heroes Salute awards.

General Salazar said, "For service members in uniform it's easy to deploy. It's part of our job, but it's very different for our family and friends. The bottom line is we are here to recognize the Airmen and their families for their sacrifices. "

Governor Jan Brewer addressed the Airmen and families via a taped video presentation.

Col. Ted Maxwell, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, began the Annual Awards ceremony by thanking unit members and their families: "Today is a great day," he said.

"We get to honor and recognize those who had special achievements over the last year and through the course of their career. Most importantly we get to honor members who have sacrificed for their country and recognize the sacrifices of their families. Without the support of those families, we couldn't go and do the things we do that are important to our nation," said the commander.

Col. Maxwell, along with the Arizona Air National Guard Commander, Brig. Gen. Michael Colangelo, and Command Chief Master Shane Clark, 162nd Fighter Wing Command Chief, then presented the Team Performance Award to the Financial Management Office.

Individual awards were presented next and are as follows:

Outstanding Officer of the Year
Lt. Col. Matt Ward

Outstanding Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year
Senior Master Sgt. Vic Lara

Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Steve Zimmer

Outstanding Airman of the Year
Senior Airman Jonathan Jackson

Additional awards presented during the Annual Awards ceremony were as follows:

Outstanding Section of the Year
Manpower and Personnel

Brig. Gen. Ronald L. Kurth Commander's Award
Capt. Melissa Jackson

Maj. Gen. Donald E. Morris Leadership Award
CMSgt David Wolslagel

Commander's Special Recognition Awards
CMSgt Mary Minter
Tech. Sgt. Robin Hinton

Maj. Gen. Donald L. Owens Junior Officer Award
Capt. Jason Burns

Air Force Association Junior Airman Award
Senior Airman Veronica Ornelas-Barbosa

Aquino Ground Safety Memorial Award
Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants

John H. "Square Deal" McNeill Award
Master Sgt. Clint Awana

162 FW Minuteman Committee Guardsman of the Year
Staff Sgt. Todd Stuve

First Sergeant of the Year
Master Sgt. Steve Zelinger

F-16 Instructor Pilot of the Year
Lt. Col. Al Kinnison

Operations Appreciation Award
Air Sovereignty Alert Detachment Maintenance
Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Award
Master Sgt. William Kelleman

162 FW Meritorious Achievement Awards
Maj. Donna Wolslagel
Lt. Col. Dan Grimwood

Top Gun Goldwater Trophy
Lt. Col. Moon Milham