NEWS | Dec. 28, 2016

PSYOP Soldiers honored with special award during family day celebration

By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota 434th Air Refueling Wing

The Army Reserve's 316th Psychological Operations Company and their families recently celebrated the holidays with a family day event that included a special Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen ceremony for returning deployers and a promotion ceremony in Kokomo, Indiana Dec. 10, 2016.

The event kicked off with lunch and festivities followed by the Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen ceremony.

“This award is designed to publicly acknowledge our Army Reserve Soldiers, as well as those who’ve supported them during the recent military operations,” said 1st Lt. Aric Gerke, 316th PSYOP Co. detachment commander who presided over the ceremony. “The Soldiers before you served honorably during their recent deployment to the Horn of Africa from October 2015 to June 2016.”

The award was created in 2004 by Congress to honor U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and their unique sacrifices while serving abroad.

Presenting the awards was guest speaker Col. Jesse Manning, 2nd Psychological Operations Group commander.  

“This is an award only for Army reservists; active duty doesn’t get this award because they don’t share the same sacrifices,” said Manning. “[Reservists] have to deploy and remain just as proficient except you only report for duty one weekend a month two weeks a year, and that makes you special.  

 “We are not weekend warriors; we are warrior citizens and that means a lot,” added Manning.  “You do a very good job, and I would like to acknowledge that today. Be proud you get to put on this uniform and defend the greatest nation in the world.”

Following the award ceremony, three Soldiers were inducted into the rank of noncommissioned officer.

The inductees included Sgt. Nathan Richardson, 316th PSYOP Co. PSYOP sergeant, Sgt. Daniel Hiser, 316th PSYOP Co. PSYOP sergeant and Sgt. Stephen Thompson, 209th Quartermaster Company mechanic.

Concluding the ceremony, Manning thanked the Soldiers for their service and the families for the sacrifices they endured while their loved ones were deployed.

“Less than one percent of the U.S. population will ever serve or have served in the military; that means the family and friends who support those who serve are less than one percent also, and that’s quite an accomplishment,” explained Manning. “Thank you for your sacrifices.
“Thank you so much for the support you provide soldiers when they are gone,” he added.  “They couldn’t do it without their families; I know I couldn’t.”

After the ceremonies children received gifts from Santa while Soldiers and their families enjoyed the holiday festivities.  

“Family day provides Soldiers and their families a great opportunity to network with other family members and relax for the holidays,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Hutchins, 316th PSYOP Co. PSYOP unit administrator who brought his wife and three children to the event. “We are unique, and when we deploy our families depend on each other because they don’t have the resources like active duty bases have.

“This allows us to get to know each other on a more personal level, so if a necessity arises family members already have the rapport and relationships established,” he added.

The 316th PSYOP Co. is one of three Army Reserve tenant units at Grissom, which also hosts the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command and the Marine Corps Reserve Detachment 1 Communications Company. Grissom Soldiers, Airmen and Marines routinely deploy around the world in support of the Department of Defense mission and U.S. strategic objectives.

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