More than 80 members of the Maryland Army National Guard Headquarters Aviation Depot Maintenance Roundout Unit assembled at Aberdeen Proving Ground Saturday for a Freedom Salute Ceremony, officially welcoming the unit home after its year-long deployment to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn from October 2010 to October 2011.
The official party included Maj. Gen. James Adkins, Maryland Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Peter Hinz, commander, MDNG; and Aviation Depot Maintenance Roundout Unit commander, Col. Paul Cisar, and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Brown.
While deployed, the group worked closely with members from Missouri, California and Connecticut National Guard units, conducting depot-level maintenance on Blackhawk helicopters.
Cisar said he was proud to have served with the group, which he said was so "professional and dedicated" that he felt like the coach of a championship team.
While mission accomplishments included the completion of more than 12,000 work orders and 131,000 man hours for aviation ground support equipment repair while supporting 248 Army helicopters from eight Combat Aviation Brigades, Cisar said the most important number was "zero."
"That's the number of casualties this task force didn't have," he said.
Cisar commended family members for holding down the home front.
"They faced everything from earthquakes to hurricanes to snowstorms," he said of the folks on the home front.
The unit and its Soldiers received several awards and recognition for their service.
The Maryland Council of Chapters, an affiliate of the Military Officers Association of America, awarded the unit its Outstanding Unit of the Year Award. MOAA members Ken McCreedy and Norm Taylor presented the award.
The Aviation Depot Maintenance Roundout Unit also received the National Guard Bureau's Army Award for Maintenance Excellence and the MDNG Outstanding Unit Ribbon for Fiscal Year 2011.
Soldiers completing their first deployment were awarded Freedom Salute kits consisting of an encased American flag, a numbered coin, lapel pins and a certificate commemorating their service in the Global War on Terror.
More than 40 Soldiers received Freedom Salute rings for completing their second deployment and six received frame Multiple Deployment awards and challenge coins from Maryland Gov.Martin O'Malley.
TheU.S. ArmyAviation Center recognized Family Readiness Group leaders Cheryl Mascevicous and Allyson Hash with the Maryland Meritorious Civilian Service Medal and the Order of Our Lady of Loreto for "outstanding support to the Army Aviation family and community.
The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard welcome home endeavors in history. The event is designed to publicly recognize the sacrifices of guard soldiers, their families and organizations that support them during their deployment.