ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - More than 80 members of the Maryland Army National Guard Headquarters Aviation Depot Maintenance Roundout Unit assembled at Aberdeen Proving Ground Feb. 4 for a Freedom Salute Ceremony.

The event officially welcomed the unit home after its yearlong deployment to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn from October 2010 to October 2011.

While deployed, the group worked closely with members from Missouri, California and Connecticut National Guard units, conducting depot-level maintenance on Blackhawk helicopters.

ADMRU Commander Col. Paul Cisar said he was proud to have served with the group, which he said was so "professional and dedicated" that he felt like the coach of a championship team. Mission accomplishments included the completion of more than 12,000 work orders and 131,000 man hours for equipment repair while supporting 248 Army helicopters from eight combat aviation brigades, but the most important number was zero.

"That's the number of casualties this task force didn't have," said Cisar.

He commended Family members for holding down the homefront.

"They faced everything from earthquakes to hurricanes to snowstorms," he said.

The unit and its Soldiers received several awards and recognition for their service.

The Maryland Council of Chapters, an affiliate of the Military Officers Association of America, awarded the unit its Outstanding Unit of the Year Award. MOAA members Ken McCreedy and Norm Taylor presented the award.

The ADMRU also received the National Guard Bureau's Army Award for Maintenance Excellence and the MDNG Outstanding Unit Ribbon for Fiscal Year 2011.

Soldiers completing their first deployment were awarded Freedom Salute kits complete with an encased American flag, a numbered coin, lapel pins and certificate commemorating their service in the Global War on Terror.

More than 40 Soldiers received Freedom Salute rings for completing their second deployment and six received framed Multiple Deployment awards and challenge coins from Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

The U.S. Army Aviation Center recognized Family Readiness Group leaders Cheryl Mascevicous and Allyson Hash with the Maryland Meritorious Civilian Service Medal and the Order of Our Lady of Loreto for "outstanding support to the Army aviation Family and community.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard welcome home endeavors in history. The event is designed to publicly recognize the sacrifices of Guard Soldiers, their Families and organizations that support them during their deployment.

The official party for Saturday's event included Maj. Gen. James Adkins, Maryland Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Peter Hinz, commander, MDNG; ADMRU Commander Col. Paul Cisar and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Brown.