“You’re a professional team of citizen airmen defending our American way of life and securing our muscle around the world.” North Carolina National Guard Commander, General Gregory Lusk
They’re a ready force… a ready team – airmen and families of the North Carolina Air National Guard 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte. Some 400 airmen and family members attended the recent Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony, honoring 150 of their own.
“We need to do this more often; we need to do this more informally – in the hallways, when we walk by….,” says Lusk.
The airmen recognized included those who have deployed for more than 30 consecutive days in support of missions such as Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle, since January 1, 2009.
Airmen received a special letter of appreciation encased in a rosewood frame and a Hometown Heroes Salute coin. Children received unique Hometown Heroes Salute dog tags.
I Am An American Airman
Master Sergeant Jacqueline Landrum of Charlotte has been in the Reserves and the Guard for a combined 21 years. Her husband is retired Navy. She was part of a team deployed to Southwest Asia. Working in the Public Health sector, she says, “We do everything they need to keep them healthy.” Through surveillance and investigations, it was her job to keep the troops safe – food, water, public facilities and environment.
When deployed, they are active duty. “That’s seven days a week, 14 hours a day,” she says.
Family members kept the home front rolling in her absence. The deployment was a bit of a shock to her son, 15-year-old Gregory. “Moms… they usually take care of everything around the house.” He was quick to proudly add, “She earned this award.”
Landrum’s daughter, 10-year-old Gabbrielle, eagerly responded about the deployment experience. “It makes me excited; It makes me want to be in the military… I’m planning on being a Marine,” she exclaims.
The hardest thing about mom being deployed? “When she takes me to school, she talks about stuff in the car, but when she was gone, nobody talked about stuff.” Gabrielle, also, missed mom doing her hair.
A successful deployment is a team effort – sacrifices are made on the home front and abroad. Lundrum’s parents, Mattie and John Griffin, made frequent trips to Charlotte from their Spartanburg, South Carolina home. Mattie says, “I drove from Spartanburg every Sunday and stayed until Tuesday night. Then her mother-in-law came in on Wednesday and stayed til Friday.”
Defenders Of Our Country
“I was just doing my job and serving my country,” says 24-year-old Richard Player of Asheville, North Carolina. “It was tough,” he adds, in describing his recent Iraq deployment.
Player was part of the Tactical Air Controller team. The demanding specialty involves calling in air strikes on the right target at the right time.
It was a difficult time for his wife, Candace, who was pregnant and suffering with a kidney stone. “It was very hard,” she says. “I went through a lot of emotions… he made it home for the birth.” Again, family members were key to this successful deployment.
Today, they have a 5-month-old boy named Elisha and Isabella, one-and-a-half.
“I really appreciate what he does for us; It’s hard, but I respect it.” Airman’s wife, Candace Player
145th Airlift Wing
“Since 9/11, if you join this wing, it won’t be long before you get the orders and head out the door.” North Carolina National Guard Commander, General Lusk
The North Carolina National Guard Air component is headed up by General Todd Kelly, a veteran of 30 years military service.
The revolving-door missions of the Charlotte-based 145th Airlift Wing focuses on operational readiness, providing the capability to deploy and redeploy air and ground troops throughout the world. They are deployed for airlift and combat missions, aeromedical and refugee evacuation, humanitarian operations and more. They are one of four units throughout the United States equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS).
Find more information on the 145th here: http://www.145aw.ang.af.mil/.
Check out these facebook pages: http://www.facebook.com/NCAirNationalGuard?sk=wall and http://www.facebook.com/NCNationalGuard.