National Guard honors local soldiers

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- No matter your stance on the War on Terror, it's difficult to ignore the commitment and sacrifice that comes with serving your country.

That's one of the reasons why fellow members of the National Guard want to give their men and women a proper thanks, hosting a Freedom Salute ceremony Sunday at Fort Taylor Hardin.

"At the drop of a hat, they're asked to leave their civilian careers and families--everything they know behind and deploy," explained SSG Josh Henderson of the 62nd Troop Command.

Many of these soldiers, members of Light Infantry Team 4 and the 1146th Personnel Services Battalion returned from Kuwait a few months back.

Most were welcomed by their families and rushed back into every-day life--a hard transition for part-time soldiers.

"Sixteen months away from your family--regardless of what kind of conditions you're living in--[is] tough on anybody," Henderson said.

With family members looking on, soldiers received honorary flags, pins, and certificates--not to mention gratitude from fellow Americans.

"It's a blessing to have them come back, to welcome me back home," said one soldier.

"It's actually rewarding to us because the mission that we had to accomplish and what we had done, so it's actually a good thing to have this award.  We feel appreciated by our unit," said PFC Charlotte Parker of the 1146th Personnel Services Battalion.

That appreciation, organizers say, is exactly what these men and women need.

"If you ask any soldier, they'll tell you all we want in return for our service is a simple 'thank you.'  That means more to us than anything that could be given to us," Henderson said.

"It brings a sense of thankfulness to your heart..that people are over here supporting you while you're in hard times," explained SPC Adam Cranford.