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Honor Guard Salute: banquet held for base, area honor guards

Herman Hanson participates in the Prisoner of War, Missing in Action ceremony Feb. 23 at the Minuteman Club during the Honor Guard banquet. Mr. Hanson is a member of American Legion Post 48 in Hudson, N.H. The banquet recognized members of the Patriot Honor Guard as well as other area honor guard members. (US Air Force Photo by Mark Wyatt)

Herman Hanson participates in the Prisoner of War, Missing in Action ceremony Feb. 23 at the Minuteman Club during the Honor Guard banquet. Mr. Hanson is a member of American Legion Post 48 in Hudson, N.H. The banquet recognized members of the Patriot Honor Guard as well as other area honor guard members. (US Air Force Photo by Mark Wyatt)

Hanscom AFB -- With strong emphasis on the "total force" concept, the Hanscom community joined together with guests from around New England to pay tribute to members of the Patriot Honor Guard and other area honor guards at the annual Honor Guard Awards Banquet Feb 23. 

Honor Guard representatives from New York, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts were on hand as commanders, private organizations and veterans' groups joined together to show their appreciation to the members of the elite organization. 

The guest speaker for the evening, Maj. Gen. Art Rooney, Electronic Systems Center vice commander, told the capacity audience how proud he was of his association with this group of outstanding men and women that make up the honor guard. 

"Active duty, Reserve or National Guard, it doesn't matter, we are one, a total force," General Rooney said. "Members of the honor guard, when called to render honors, represent the Air Force and a grateful nation to a family who has lost a loved one. 

"They represent the best of the best and they do it every day of the year, in all kinds of weather. Tonight it is our turn to say thanks for what you do," the general said. 

Col. Tom Schluckebier, 66th Air Base Wing commander and host of the event, echoed the general's words. 

"Mission success relies on the contributions of each member and each organization," Colonel Schluckebier said. "Each unit contributes to the mission success that the honor guard has continued to achieve. We owe them a great deal of thanks for what they do on our behalf." 

Emphasizing that the continued success of the Patriot Honor Guard would not be possible without the help of Reserve and National Guard units, Colonel Schluckebier presented plaques to the eight other New England area honor guard units and their
representatives. 

The total force camaraderie was evident as representatives from the 158th Fighter Wing, Burlington, Vt.; the 101st Air Refueling Wing, Bangor, Maine; the 439th Airlift Wing, Chicopee, Mass.; the 157th Air Refueling Wing, Portsmouth, N.H.; the Northeast Air Defense Sector, Rome, N.Y.; the 103rd Fighter Wing, Windsor Locks, Conn.; the 102nd
Fighter Wing, Bourne, Mass., and the 109th Airlift Wing, Scotia, N.Y. came to the stage to be honored. 

Highlighting the evening were the individual awards presented to members of the Patriot Honor Guard. Colonel Schluckebier presented Achievement Medals to two members of the honor guard, 1st Lt. Phillip Meikle, 950th Electronic Systems Group and 2nd Lt. John William Myers, Air Force Research Lab, for their distinguished service as members of the unit. 

Lieutenant Meikle was also the winner of the Master Sgt. Lenny Lanier Award for 2006.
Honor Guard Enlisted Member of the Year was awarded to Staff Sgt. Danielle Laplume, 66th MDSS and the Honor Guard Officer of the Year was awarded to 1st Lt. Jessica Hewitt, AFRL. 

Honor Guard Flight of the Year went to Blue Flight for their teamwork and morale. During the evening, several of the organizations took a few moments to recognize and thank departing Master Sgt. Barry Hughes, Patriot Honor Guard superintendent, for his contributions as a mentor and leader over the past six years. 

Sergeant Hughes has turned over the duties of Patriot Honor Guard Superintendent to Master Sgt. Laura Noel as he takes on new challenges within the 66th Services Squadron. 

To learn more about the Patriot Honor Guard or to volunteer, contact Sergeant Noel at (781) 377-4388.