Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. presented combat awards yesterday to 16 members of Maryland's Air National Guard in a ceremony in Middle River.
Dressed in a brown leather Air National Guard jacket, Ehrlich pinned medals to the lapels of each of the recipients - all of them members of the guard's 235th Civil Engineering Flight being honored for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war against terrorism.
"You strike unique dignity every day in serving this country," Ehrlich told the honorees at the Warfield Air National Guard Base. "I am very proud to be here."
The recipients recently returned from deployments in Iraq and Qatar, where they helped design and construct the Combined Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base. Seven of the service members were presented the Bronze Star.
After the ceremony, Ehrlich praised the more than 750 members of Maryland's National Guard who have been called to duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
"We can never show enough appreciation of the men and women who protect us," Ehrlich said. "The sacrifice is incredible."