FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg announced its 2009 Family of the Year during a ceremony held at Fort Bragg's Main Post Chapel, Thursday.

Maj. Gen Daniel Allyn, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps & Fort Bragg, and Melissa Helmick, wife of Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, presented Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Loehr, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 5th Battalion, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and his Family, with the prestigious award.

Loehr, a Chicago native, said his Family was honored to receive the award. "Our Family has enjoyed our experience in the military and in the Army,' said Loehr. "Fort Bragg has been great to us."

This was the 7th annual Fort Bragg Family of the Year ceremony. Sgt. First Class Benny Smith, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and his wife Araceli were the first recipients of the award in 2003 and were on hand to witness the presentation.

"I am excited to continue recognizing our extraordinary heroes and champions and to give thanks to folks who do so many great things supporting our Soldiers, our Families, and our community," said Allyn.

Thirty-two Families were nominated by their chains of command for their perspective on, and demonstration of Family cohesiveness, as well as their involvement in the unit and the community. A panel of five community members, all involved with Families, reviewed all submissions and selected the top six Families. Families were then interviewed by a separate panel of community leaders to determine the Family of the Year.

Cathy Mansfield, representing Army Community Service and the Directorate of Family, and Morale Welfare and Recreation, recognized each Family which received a certificate of appreciation and had a photograph taken with Allyn and Helmick. As each Family stepped forward, Mansfield used descriptive words use in their nomination packets, like closeness, commitment, discipline, captivating, cohesion, comforting, and teamwork to describe each Family.

Unit leaders described Nicole as the "backbone" of the units Family Readiness Group leading them through two deployments. Loehr recently returned from Iraq after a one year rotation and his third deployment to Iraq.

Mansfield commented that it is always a tough decision on the part of panel members to select one Family. "You are the true spirit of the Fort Bragg community," said Mansfield.

The six finalists for the Family of the Year were:
Aca,!AcStaff Sgt. Bernard Johnson, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1BSTB, 82nd Airborne Division, and his wife, Monica.

Aca,!AcStaff Sgt. Daniel Smith, 18 Fires Brigade, 188th BSB, 82nd Airborne Division.

Aca,!AcSpc. Jason Dailey, 8th Psychological Operations battalion (Airborne), and his wife, Susan.

Aca,!AcStaff Sgt. Adam George, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, and his wife, Anna.

Aca,!AcSgt. Matthew Golic, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, and his wife, Elizabeth.

"Although we will name one Family of the Year, it is evident that we have many, and all of you deserve special recognition," said Allyn.

The Family of the Year received a lead crystal star award engraved with the family name, a $250.00 gift certificate and a $250.00 commissary gift certificate. Lynn Grates, executive director of the Armed Services YMCA, which is the national sponsor of the Military Family Month, presented the Loehr Family with the commissary gift certificate.

Following the event, the Loehr family participated in Fort Bragg's annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony at the Main Post Parade Field.