By Spc. Michael T. CrawfordNovember 12, 2009
CHARLESTON, W.V. (Nov. 10, 2009) - Families and friends of the 261st Ordnance Company here gathered at the United States Armed Forces Reserve Center Nov. 2 to honor deploying Army Reserve soldiers and show support for their families. Around 9 a.m., members of the VFW, Family Readiness Group and Operation Military Kids set up tables and stations with refreshments, pamphlets, books and toys for Soldiers and their families. "We've been working on planning this for a few weeks now," said Georgia Hughes-Webb, wife of deploying unit commander 2nd Lt. Michael H. Webb. "I contacted [Operation Military Kids] to see if they would come and provide some support for the family day and they jumped all over it." Soldiers can record their voices in books provided by OMK so children can still hear their loved ones' voices while deployed. Soldiers can also put pictures of themselves into laminated pockets on the faces of Army dolls provided by OMK. "It was really wonderful to know that our kids have that kind of support," Hughes-Webb said. At 11 a.m., soldiers, families and local dignitaries gathered in the drill hall for the unit's mobilization ceremony. Following speeches from the company commander, local politicians and group spokesmen, the official party honored soldiers with awards and promotions. Spc. Christopher E. Hewitt received the Army Achievement Medal for his role in pursuing and restraining a shop lifting during his annual training. "It feels good to be recognized for something you did," said Hewitt, who will be departing on his first deployment. "I feel pretty confident; I'm with a lot of good people, and we really take care of each other." Sgt. David A. Lalone received his second Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal for serving six years in the Army Reserve. "It's a real big deal," said Lalone, who will be departing on his second deployment. "We're leaving and it's in front of everyone's friends and family and peers." Nine soldiers, including Hewitt, received their promotion from private first class to specialist. Sgt. Bismark Navas received his promotion from specialist to sergeant. Webb spoke about his pride in his unit, saying the many promotions and awards during the ceremony made him more proud than anything he had done in his military career, he said. He had high hopes that his unit will continue the trend overseas. "Our mission is critical," said Webb, who will be departing on his third deployment. "We will do our job to the highest level of professionalism and proficiency. We will live the Army Values, and we will make our fellow soldiers, our families and our nation proud." Family members have already expressed pride in their soldiers. "I'm so proud of him and everything he's doing," Hughes-Webb said about her husband. "He cares so much about his soldiers and about making sure they have everything they need, not just to achieve the mission but also to keep well while they're overseas. "I love him, and I'm going to miss him like mad," she said. "But I know he's got to do his job, and I'm proud of that."