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Base hails recently deployed airmen

Los Angeles Air Force Base members, who recently returned from deployment, are welcomed with applause and balloons from the crowd inside Los Angeles AFB Gordon Conference Center at the start of the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" ceremony, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Los Angeles Air Force Base members, who recently returned from deployment, are welcomed with applause and balloons from the crowd inside Los Angeles AFB Gordon Conference Center at the start of the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" ceremony, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, thanks and welcomes home airmen who recently returned from deployment during the opening remarks of the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, thanks and welcomes home airmen who recently returned from deployment during the opening remarks of the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Capt. Anthony Costanza (r), Comptroller office, receives a commander’s coin from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, during the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. Capt. Constanza was deployed during 2008. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Capt. Anthony Costanza (r), Comptroller office, receives a commander’s coin from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, during the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. Capt. Constanza was deployed during 2008. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Felicia Brown, Contracting office, performs the song Proud to be an American for the troops during the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Felicia Brown, Contracting office, performs the song Proud to be an American for the troops during the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Staff Sgt. Meegan Haynes, 61st Communications Squadron, who recently returned from a deployment from Qatar in the Middle East, helps herself to some salad at a luncheon held after the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

Staff Sgt. Meegan Haynes, 61st Communications Squadron, who recently returned from a deployment from Qatar in the Middle East, helps herself to some salad at a luncheon held after the "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" at the Gordon Conference Center, Jan. 29. (Photo by Stephen Schester)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE -- Airmen who recently returned from deployment were honored at an "SMC Welcome Home Airmen Celebration" held at the Gordon Conference Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Jan. 29. The 57 men and women marched single-file through flying balloons of red, white, and blue as more than 350 fellow base members cheered and applauded their arrival. 

The heroes had been deployed around the globe to places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Their deployment lasted for periods of 120 to 365 days in support of the global war on terror. Other deployment locations included Dover AFB, Del., Ft. Monroe, Va., Florida, Italy and Peru. 

Officials attending the celebration included Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, Space and Missile Systems Center commander; Mr. Douglas Loverro, SMC executive director; Brig. Gen. Susan Mashiko, SMC vice commander; Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Ludwig, SMC command chief master sergeant; and SMC leaderships. Others special guests included Col. Anita Latin, Air Base Wing commander; the Honorable Mike Gin, Redondo Beach mayor; Mrs. Donna Sheridan, wife of SMC commander; Tom Fitzgerald, Program and Integration chief technical director; Joy White, Contracting director; John Wagner, Space Based Infrared Systems Wing deputy director; and spouses and family members of the recently returned deployed. 

"Welcome home. We're glad you're safely back and we're glad we can do this to honor you," said General Sheridan. "I think it's really important that we recognize those of us who have ventured forth on the deployment. Some of the types of things we're asked to do ... [are] different than what we're asked to do here at SMC for sure - different challenges and certainly different skills learned ... in the process. Thanks for taking this on, thanks for going, and thanks for being so dedicated while you were out there on deployment.

"To the families, thanks. It's not easy left here to mind the store, watch the kids, keep the family going, and keep other jobs going while family members are deployed. We know that. To all of you - thanks so much for what you have done and are still doing to support your family members or loved one who deployed in this last six months." 

General Sheridan stated how deployments are constant here at SMC and across the Air Force. Currently, there are more than 70 SMC members deployed around the world and more are to follow soon. He stressed the importance of wingmen and the continuance of supporting the family members of the deployed troops. 

"We wish them God's speed and good luck in what they're doing," he said. "We think about them every day." 

General Sheridan pinned on medals to three of the outstanding airmen. Lt. Col. Wayne Bell, Global Positioning Systems Wing, who was deployed in Afghanistan, was awarded the Bronze Star. Capt Mulghetta Sium, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, who was deployed to Iraq, received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Senior Master Sgt. Richard Schlosser, command first sergeant, who was deployed to Kuwait, received the Meritorious Service Medal, third oak-leaf clusters. 

The invocation was given by Chaplain (Capt.) Matthew Boarts, who raised a piece of the Stone of Ebenezer, which he had picked up during his own deployment. This stone symbolizes the protection God gives everyone. "Thus far, we have made it with the help of the Lord," he said referring to the safe return of our troops. 

The event included the presentation of colors by the Los Angeles AFB Honor Guard and a video presentation sharing the experiences of a few of the returning members. A rendition of the National Anthem and the song Proud to be an American was performed by Felicia Brown of the Contracting Office. The homecoming celebration continued with a private luncheon honoring these Airmen.