Community, Guard leaders salute local hometown Airmen

U.S. Air Force airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing Honor Guard place the colors at the beginning of the Hometown Heroes Salute awards presentation at Absegami High School in Galloway, N.J. on Feb. 9.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Shane Karp/Released)

U.S. Air Force airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing Honor Guard place the colors at the beginning of the Hometown Heroes Salute awards presentation at Absegami High School in Galloway, N.J. on Feb. 9. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Shane Karp/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Monica Rivera from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing presents her mother Diana with a "center of influence" award at the Hometown Heroes Salute event at Absegami High School in Galloway, N.J. on Feb. 9.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Monica Rivera from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing presents her mother Diana with a "center of influence" award at the Hometown Heroes Salute event at Absegami High School in Galloway, N.J. on Feb. 9. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Military leaders, family, friends and elected officials applauded at least 115 Airmen from the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base here, Feb. 9 for their military service overseas.

The Air National Guard's Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony held at Absegami High School recognized those who deployed for more than 30 consecutive days since 9/11 as well their families and "personal centers of influence" who supported them.

"It felt great for my parents to be able to see me acknowledged for my commitment," said Senior Airman Monica Rivera, a fabrications specialist from the 177th Fighter Wing.

Rivera spent four months at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and other Airmen involved in the ceremony deployed for similar overseas contingency operations, to include Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Airmen were awarded a cherry-wood encased letter of appreciation signed by the Air National Guard's director and command chief, enclosed with a commemorative coin.

Brig. Gen. Robert C. Bolton, commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard, spoke at the event and thanked the Airmen as well as their families.

"We couldn't do our job, and quite frankly, our nation couldn't accomplish its objectives, without their support," said Bolton.

Spouses received an engraved pen and pencil set and medallion, and each child received engraved dog tags.