More than 800 Guardsmen being honored this weekend

Friday, January 7, 2011

NASHVILLE -- Tennessee National Guardsmen from Lewisburg are to be honored this weekend in Tullahoma with their fellow soldiers from other units there and three other locations.

Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee Adjutant General, will officiate at four Freedom Salute ceremonies Saturday and Sunday honoring over 800 Tennessee National Guardsmen from 13 units recently returned from Iraq.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Breece, Senior Enlisted Leader for the Tennessee National Guard, will assist in the presentations.

The units represent Soldiers from the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 1-181st Field Artillery Battalion. Cities represented are: Columbia, Lewisburg, Shelbyville, Winchester, Maryville, Pigeon Forge, Newport, Sweetwater, New Tazewell, Greeneville, Kingsport, Rogersville and Chattanooga.

The ceremony not only honors Guardsmen and their families, but individuals or groups in the respective communities who went "above and beyond" in assisting them during deployment.

Maj. Gen. Haston will present a beautiful, cased American Flag to each soldier recognizing his or her first deployment. They also receive a ceremonial coin, medallion and lapel pin to commemorate their service to their country. Guardsmen who have served more than one tour of duty will receive special recognition. Second-tour soldiers are presented a personalized "Freedom Ring." Third-tour soldiers receive a "Defender of Freedom" plaque.

The prestigious Minuteman Statue and a large, framed, American flag mosaic will be given to individuals and organizations or businesses in the community for outstanding support of the unit and families during deployment.

Soldiers of the 278th ACR, to include Chattanooga's 1-181st, began returning home in June of last year, six months earlier than expected. The regiment is the largest single unit in the Tennessee National Guard.

Freedom Salutes on Saturday include:

* 240 Soldiers from units in Columbia, Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Winchester will be honored. The event will be held at the First Baptist Church, 108 East Grundy Street, Tullahoma. To begin promptly at 9 a.m.

* 130 Soldiers from the Chattanooga area being honored. The event will be held at the Chattanooga Choo Choo's Centennial Theatre, 1400 Market St., Chattanooga.

Freedom Salutes on Sunday include:

* 320 Soldiers from Guard units in Maryville, Pigeon Forge, Newport, Sweetwater and New Tazewell being honored. The ceremony will be held at West High School, 3326 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville. To begin promptly at 9 a.m.

* 170 Soldiers from units in Kingsport, Greeneville and Rogersville being honored. The ceremony to be held at the Kingsport Renaissance Center, 1200 East Center Street, Kingsport.