Last updated: August 26. 2013 4:56PM - 61 Views

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The Missouri National Guard honored its citizen-soldiers and their families at the 20th Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters Company Freedom Salute on March 2 at the Maj. Gen. John C. McLaughlin Memorial Armory in Sedalia.

Three months ago, families welcomed their loved ones home from Iraq. On March 2, state and city officials, fellow guardsmen and family members celebrated the soldier’s achievements.

The Freedom Salute Ceremony is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors. It is designed to publicly acknowledge the Army Guard soldiers, as well as those that support them during military operations.

For their duty while deployed in Iraq, the Headquarters Company 20th Combat Aviation Brigade received the Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker Award for best overall aviation unit in the Army. The unit was also nominated to receive the Meritorious Unit Citation Award.

“The example of what you’ve done is a tremendous example of what the National Guard provides to the nation,” said Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, Missouri National Guard adjutant general. “Having received the Parker Award and recognized as a superior unit, that means you are the best that the Army has to offer.”

The award recognizes aviation units in the areas of leadership, training, maintenance and safety. The awards are open to the entire Army Aviation Branch, active, Reserve and National Guard components.

Family members were acknowledged at the ceremony for their support.

“When you deploy a soldier to defend America, the sacrifice is more than a sacrifice of just the soldier wearing the uniform,” said Sidwell. “It is a sacrifice of the family supporting that soldier.”

Members of the HHC 20th CAB were deployed with an Army National Guard aviation unit from Operational Support Airlift Command (OSACOM) based at Davison Army Air Field at Fort Belvoir, Va. The Army National Guard unit was under the direction of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade from Texas. The HHC 20th CAB supported the operations of all Army fixed-wing passenger and cargo planes in Iraq.

Each soldier received several tokens of appreciation and memorabilia including an encased American flag, a numbered and limited edition commemorative coin, a medal, a lapel insignia for themselves and a family member, as well as a certificate of appreciation.

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