Air Guard Defenders Recognized for Deployment


Guam – Thirty-one Airmen from the Guam Air National Guard’s 254th Security Forces Squadron were recognized for their service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Always Ready!” are two words evident in our deployed Airmen and their families.  Even before they deployed, our Airmen sacrificed many hours of training and prepared to ensure they were ready to deploy,” said Lt. Col. Audie Artero, Commander, 254th Air Base Group.

“You epitomized the Air Force Core values, “Integrity, Service and Excellence” in your dedication, commitment and pride as you executed each and every mission,” said Artero.  “The many accolades received from deployed leadership in country speak volumes to your work ethics, motivation and great attitudes.  Thank you for your service!” 

[Capt. Alvin Alvarez, deployed unit OIC, presents gifts to his wife, Hayette, and sons, Ethan, Tristan and Caleb, courtesy of the Hometown Heroes (HH) Program, during the Guam Air National Guard’s (GUANG) Hometown Heroes Ceremony in honor of his recent deployment.   (Photo courtesy of Maj. Josephine Blas, PAO, Guam National Guard)]

The Airmen were deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar for about 8 months where they were tasked to support the Air Force’s Air and Space Expeditionary Force mission in Southwest Asia.  This tasking falls under the Air Force Central Command where the Airmen were primarily focused on the provision of base defense measures, inclusive of personnel and resource security.

“It was a good deployment,” said Senior Airman Scott Flores, who deployed for first-time last year.  “I learned a lot about my job and what I need to do differently to better prepare myself for the next deployment,” he said.

The Hometown Heroes Ceremony recognizes Air National Guard members for their sacrifices and fosters retention, family recognition, community and employer appreciation.

Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, The Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, thanked the Airmen for their service to our island and our country.  “All of you have dedicated your lives to defend our country.  Our nation depends on men and women like you, who are willing to give something back in order to make sure we protect our country and keep it safe, to give our children a better life for the future.  That’s what it’s all about.  You continue to respond when our nation calls!” he said.

“Today, we recognize 31 defenders who completed another successful deployment executing critical force protection missions, taskings and operations.  Although you were relatively small in numbers, you represented 80% of the command and control overseeing all force protection and law enforcement operations and responsibilities,” continued Paulino.  

This defenders team efforts and contributions was directly responsible for securing over 9,400 multinational forces, civilians and contractors and over $10B in coalition assets, from aircrafts to munitions storage areas.  This mission also involved you being handpicked to oversee local base force protection efforts for high visibility visits that spanned the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force, the Amir of Qatar, and was the lead security detail for the Gulf States Air Defense Chief Council Conference.

“This defenders team hit the ground running and your talents were highlighted throughout your deployment, not only individually, but for the squadron and the wing.  They distinguished themselves and continued the Guam National Guard’s legacy with their dedication, commitment and service before self.  They displayed island pride and made their mark!  You’ve done our island proud.  I thank you for your willingness to put your lives on the line.  And, I thank you families for their support, sacrifice and loyalty to this great country,” said Paulino.

This deployment marked the second for Staff Sgt. Mark Sablan who had previously deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  “This deployment was different and I believe, better, especially with the living arrangements and available resources.  The camaraderie with the other airmen made it more like home and the time pass quicker.  A very good mission overall,” he said.

The Airmen received an engraved Eagle Statue with the words, “Airman, Family, Community” on it.  The spouses were given a Hometown Heroes engraved pen and pencil set and each of the children received an engraved Hometown Heroes Dog Tag, Cinch Sak and other goodies.  A center of influence medallion is also available for the Airman to give to someone who made a significant contribution in support of them and their family during their deployment.