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Ceremony Honors Guard Members After Deployment

  • Published
  • By Sioux City Journal
More than 50 men and women from the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa National Guard, were honored Sunday for their service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"You exemplify the adventurous spirit that makes world class airmen," wing commander Col. Brian Miller said. "You're well-trained disciplined warriors who make the United States military the envy of the free world. Your selfless contribution makes our military and nation proud."

Family members, friends and retirees were in attendance at the welcome home ceremony held in the fuel cell hangar of the 185th Air Refueling Wing. The ceremony began with the presentation of the colors and an invocation. Members of the 185th, who were deployed within the past year sat to the right of the stage. Other members of the 185th, dressed in fatigues, stood in lines behind seated family members and friends.

An American flag extending the length of the stage served as a backdrop as Miller commended the soldiers for their pride and professionalism.

"Your efforts are making a difference both here and abroad," Miller said. "The National Guard is the oldest military organization in our nation and it's never been needed more than it is right now."

Members of the 185th were deployed within the past year to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Guam, Kyrgyzstan and Spain.

Staff Sgt. Randy Platenberg of Sergeant Bluff was one of the members of the 185th who were deployed to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Platenberg, a member of the civil engineering squadron, worked in the utility shop.

Platenberg returned home to the United States in September. He said it took a few days to get back to "normal life."

This year Platenberg will be able to spend the holidays with his family, unlike other years when he was deployed overseas. Two years ago Platenberg was deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq, with his father.

"It's nice being home for a change," he said. "You get to see family."

Platenberg also hopes to deploy again.

"I volunteered to go the last two times and I'll probably volunteer to go again," he said.

Miller also thanked the families for "holding it together" while their loved ones were deployed.

"The people being recognized on stage today could not have done it without all of your support and leadership," he said. "For all of your efforts I say thank you."

Earning Outstanding Airmen of the Year honors were Senior Airman Aaron Ware, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Jones and Master Sgt. Bartholomew Zediker. The wing's Outstanding Airmen are nominated by their supervisors and selected by a board at the 185th. They exemplify the wing's core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all they do.

Air Guards members were also decorated by the Army for their contribution to their mission from December 2005 to June 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Receiving the Army Commendation Medal were Chief Master Sgt. Edward Bock, Tech Sgt. Greg Patten, Tech. Sgt. Angela Baker, Staff Sgt. Shawn McKenna, Staff Sgt. Scott Bohlin and Staff Sgt. Megan Thiele.

Receiving the Army Achievement Medal were Staff Sgt. Amanda Sorenson and Senior Airman Casey D. Floyd.