Master Sgt. Derrick Carter, 354th Mission Support Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, performs guide on duties for the Welcome Home Ceremony in the Thunderdome March 9. The ceremony honored more than 400 Airmen who returned from deployments over the past six months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)
Senior Master Sgt. Dean Sprague, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron, accepts the Soldier's Medal from 354th Fighter Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Dave Scott during a Welcome Home Ceremony for returning deployed airmen at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska March 9. Sergeant Sprague's heroic efforts saved the lives of five Afghan civilians during his deployment. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder).
by Tech. Sgt. Scott Farrow
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/13/2007 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNEWS) -- A crowd of more than 500 Airmen, family members and guests gathered March 9 to welcome home 400 Eielson Airmen who returned from deployments over the past six months.
"It's the hard work and dedication of these Airmen that made the recent deployments successful," said Lt. Col. Mike Fitzgerald, the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, who himself recently returned from Iraq.
Colonel Fitzgerald also took a moment to recognize the hard work of the Airmen currently deployed.
"I'm asking everyone here to take a couple of minutes tonight to think about the men and women deployed now; to think about the people in harm's way, to think about the people who are away from their families."
Colonel Fitzgerald, whose unit was heavily tasked during the deployment, then recognized many returnees individually by describing their actions taken while deployed, voicing his appreciation to each returnee with a hearty, "Thank you for your service and welcome home!"
Brig. Gen. David Scott, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, summed up the pride and appreciation he felt for both his returning warriors and their ever-supportive families with two simple words: "Thank you."
"We owe every Airman, every Soldier, every Sailor, Marine and Coast Guardsman our thanks, gratitude and respect," General Scott said. "Many who deployed were separated from their families and friends and the comforts of home to serve in dangerous locations and do dangerous work, but the families left behind carried on with resolve and determination."
General Scott also praised those who supported the fight at Eielson while their brothers and sisters in arms were deployed, stressing that each Air Force member, civilian and family member are vital to success in the global war on terrorism.
"Each of you are warriors and each of you performed with outstanding dedication to service during this deployment, whether overseas or on station," he said. "It's truly an honor to work with each and every one of you."
General Scott also recognized the actions of one particular Airman whose quick thinking and training helped save the lives of five Afghan civilians during his deployment. Senior Master Sgt. Dean Sprague, of the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron, accepted the Soldier's Medal from the wing commander in recognition of his life-saving efforts.
During his deployment to Afghanistan, Sergeant Sprague provided direct ambulatory assistance to airplane crash victims. After a civilian aircraft crash, Sergeant Sprague immediately established a casualty collection point and controlled the medical evacuation of the critically wounded.