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116th ACW Guardsmen receive a host of honors

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- More than 70 Georgia Air National Guard members from the 116th Air Control Wing were honored on Feb. 9 for their accomplishments, heroism and sacrifice during a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation.

Maj. Gen. James Butterworth, adjutant general, Georgia National Guard, presided over the events including the Hometown Heroes Salute awards; presentation of the 116th Air Control Wing's 17th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award; the Georgia Medal of Valor; the Georgia Meritorious Service Medal; and a workplace safety award.

"Hometown Heroes is what the National Guard is all about," said Butterworth. "It starts with some of our core values; integrity first, service before self and striving for excellence in every single thing we do."

Hometown Heroes Salute award recipients and their families were recognized for their support of contingency operations for more than 30 consecutive days across the globe since the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

In total, more than 900 Airmen from the 116th Air Control Wing have received the Hometown Heroes award since the program started in 2009.

"I couldn't be prouder of the men and women who've served with such distinction and met the challenges at home and abroad during the time of our highest operational tempo," said
Col. Kevin Clotfelter, commander, 116th Air Control Wing.

As a testament to the accomplishments of the 116th, Clotfelter accepted the 17th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award from Butterworth; giving the wing more AFOUAs than any other Air National Guard unit.

The day's events also showcased individual acts of valor carried out by four Guardsmen on the domestic front whose efforts saved the lives of fellow citizens.

Senior Airman Joey Defore, a graduate of Northside High School in Warner Robins, Ga., and a member of the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, received the Georgia Medal of Valor. Defore rescued six children and two adults from an overturned school bus after it slid into a ditch and rolled onto its side in Warner Robins, Aug. 15th, 2013.

"I reacted the way I did because of my own children and it's the right thing to do," said Defore. "If this were my children I would want someone to do the same thing for them."

Three Airmen from the 116th Security Forces Squadron performed CPR; saving the life of a passenger, while aboard a flight in route to pre-deployment training.

For embracing the true Minuteman spirit, the Georgia Meritorious Service Medal was presented to Master Sgt. Richard Ross, and Tech. Sgts. Dominick Andrews and Timothy White.

"Our skills were already honed from our self-aid and buddy care and the pre-deployment training we receive from the Georgia Air National Guard," said Andrews. "As soon as we heard help, we went."

Capping off the day, Maj. Gen. Thomas Moore, assistant adjutant general, Georgia Air National Guard, presented Lt. Col. Rich Ulmen, commander, 116th Maintenance Squadron, the Labor of Excellence Award for exceptional workplace safety. It was the squadron's third safety award for achieving 2,385 shifts without a workday loss.