29th ID Soldiers gather for Freedom Salute - Feb. 5, 2012
Approximately 40 Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division gathered Feb. 5, 2012, at Fort Belvoir to conduct a Freedom Salute in honor of their service in Afghanistan. The Soldiers were assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Security Partnering Team with the mission of assisting with the growth and development of the Afghan National Security Forces where they served as advisors and mentors to senior Afghan leaders. They were part of a NATO Coalition of 49 troop-contributing nations that Security Partnering personnel interacted with daily across Afghanistan. Approximately 72 Virginia and Maryland National Guard Soldiers who took part in the mission returned home to family and friends Oct. 27, 2011, after serving in Afghanistan since early December 2010. The Freedom Salute recognizes the Soldiers, their families, employers and organizations that contributed significantly to supporting the unit during its deployment. The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers and those who supported them during the President's call to duty for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. As part of the Freedom Salute ceremony, the Soldiers received the Virginia Governor’s National Service Medal from Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Maj. Gen. Frank E. Batts, commander of the 29th Infantry Division, also presented additional items to recognize Soldiers and their families for their service.
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