Approximately 130 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers from the 933rd Military Police Company based in Fort Sheridan, Ill., were recognized for their service in Afghanistan at a Freedom Salute ceremony at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Oct. 12.
The unit mobilized Aug. 7, 2012 and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
"Welcome back 933rd, I'm glad to have you back to recognize all the great work you did in Afghanistan. Be very proud of yourselves for the fine work you did over there," said Brig. Gen. Richard J. Hayes Jr., Assistant Adjutant General-Army. "To the families - thank you for your enduring sacrifice. I know it's very hard to have your loved ones away."
The company worked with Special Forces troops in Afghanistan; therefore, much of its mission is classified. 933rd Soldiers were spread across four remote combat posts in Afghanistan successfully accomplishing missions such as guard operations and prisoner escort.
"I want to thank you all for coming and the support," said Capt. Thomas Gilligan of Bolingbrook, 933rd commander. "The most important part of the National Guard is the bond we have with our families, friends and local community and as you can see with the facilities we have here today and the support we have been given over the year and the various things that got shipped to us that we needed in theater, the support we have as a unit is great and that is because of you guys."
Six Soldiers earned Bronze Star Medals, 76 earned Army Commendation Medals, 42 earned the Army Achievement Medals and 19 Soldiers received Combat Action Badges.
Recipients of the Bronze Star Medal included Capt. Thomas Gilligan of Bolingbrook, 1st Lt. Christopher Rothwell of Chicago, 1st Lt. Lorrie Novak of Oak Forrest, Sgt. 1st Class Delval Desavieu of Dolton, Staff Sgt. Bret Thompson of Yorkville. Sgt. 1st Class Joel Mauney of Springfield also earned the Bronze Star Medal, but was not present for the ceremony.
The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest individual military award and the ninth-highest by order of precedence in the US Military. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
The 933rd also mobilized from February 2003 to July 2004, as one of the first Illinois Army National Guard units to be deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Freedom Salute Campaign is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard presented each eligible Soldier with an encased American flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families also received items recognizing their support and sacrifice.
The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.
Provided by the Illinois National Guard