Members of the squadron have participated in six major military operations.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
VIENNA -- An awards ceremony Saturday during Family Day celebrations at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station produced a variety of emotions from the honorees, and from the crowd of friends and family members.
Capt. Cathy Miller, the only female honored in the ceremony, held back tears as she and 58 other members of the 757th Airlift Squadron received a total of 86 Air Medals and 11 Aerial Achievement Medals.
The Air Medal was awarded for single acts of heroism during operations, while the Aerial Achievement Medal recognized those who went above and beyond what was required of them during a mission.
Members of the squadron have participated in six major military operations, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Some of the recipients were not present due to deployment, and it was the thought of those people that brought tears to Miller's eyes.
Miller, who received two Air Medals for flying 41 combat operations in the Middle East, said she couldn't help thinking of her friends who are still deployed overseas as she gazed at their family members in the crowd.
Though the honor was appreciated, Miller said her medal-winning actions were part of her duty.
"It's serving my country," Miller said. "It's something I've been trained to do."
A balancing act
Col. Tim Thomson, who presented the awards, said the honorees were on active duty between Feb. 27, 2003, and Aug. 31, 2004, the longest activation in the history of the unit.
Thomson said he was impressed with the community spirit and dedication of the 757th, one of two flying squadrons assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing, because the members voluntarily returned to training when they were demobilized.
He also praised the airmen for balancing responsibilities among their civilian jobs, their families and their Air Reserve jobs.
Though many of the squadron's members received multiple medals and have been honored before, the formal ceremony was the first public recognition of their achievements, he said.
In a similar fashion, Miller's friends will be honored when members of the 773rd Airlift Squadron, the second unit assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing, are deactivated at the end of November, Thomson said.