SPRINGFIELD, IL (01/31/2011)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized Feb. 5 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony will be at the Illinois Military Academy at Camp Lincoln in Springfield at 11 a.m.
Soldiers of BEST (Bilateral Embedded Staff Team) A5 returned in October after being mobilized in January 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They joined the Polish Land Forces before arriving in Afghanistan and worked as a joint unit during the course of the mobilization. The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.
The Soldiers were embedded with Task Force White Eagle, which saw more combat action than any other Polish unit since World War II. Task Force White Eagle completed 32 operations, including five air assaults and multiple dismounted infiltration missions. Most missions were completed with the help of the Afghan National Security Forces from the Afghan Uniform Police, National Directorate of Security and the Afghan National Army.
The Soldiers assisted the Afghan government to extend its authority across the country, performed security operations and helped stabilize the war-torn nation. The Soldiers also mentored and supported the Afghan National Army and supported Afghan government programs to disarm illegally armed groups.
The Freedom Salute Campaign program is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard will present each eligible Soldier with an encased American Flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered
commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families will also receive items recognizing their support and sacrifice.
The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.
News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and are required to notify the Public Affairs Office by 3 p.m. Feb. 4 or they will not be granted access onto Camp Lincoln. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.