FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers and Family Members of the 3rd "Gladiator" Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Family Readiness Group, gathered Feb. 21, to celebrate the successful efforts of the FRG throughout their spouse's deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.

For the duration of the celebration, awards were handed out to thank those who contributed hours of dedicated service to the FRG.

"We came together to award the special people who always stepped forward and helped out, whether it was deployment or not," said Kathy Rose, wife of 3rd BSTB commander, Lt. Col. Michael Rose.

"It's been almost three years of volunteering and coming together to help, and we just wanted to do something really special for these individuals," she said.

The awardees were greeted by Lt. Col. Rose and his wife, along with 3rd BSTB command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Swingler. The festivities concluded with the awards being handed out and a feast of submarine sandwiches.

One of the awards being presented was the Yellow Rose of Texas, a prestigious award presented to hardworking females of Texas.

"The Yellow Rose of Texas is a very special award," said Rose. "It's an award given by [the acting Texas governor] because we are in the state of Texas, so you have the Texas home and family, in conjunction with the Army families. It's an award that says we're all family."

The awardees were each thanked by Rose for their selfless efforts as they came up to receive their awards.

"[These awards and recognizing these ladies is] very important because if your FRG is taking care of your family, whether you have a sick child or someone passes away, if we take care of things over here, [the Soldiers] can focus on their jobs while deployed and there's no worrying," Rose said. "We know if [the Soldiers are] not worrying than they will stay safe and the families will be safe."

1st Sgt. Leslie Forsman, 3rd BSTB Rear Detachment, and a native of Seattle, was the acting first sergeant during the battalion's deployment to Iraq. She worked with the FRG daily, working together to make sure all families were informed and well taken care of.

"The purpose of the rear detachment is to help support the families of the Soldiers and if we're able to support them, the Soldiers are able to focus on their missions," Forsman said.

"I worked with the FRG almost on a daily basis," she continued. "It was, honestly, one of the most fulfilling jobs I've had in the Army.

"When you do a lot of active duty time as a first sergeant, you see the Soldiers and how they're doing, but you don't always see the results with the families," said Forsman. "By being on rear detachment, you get to deal directly with the family members and having a real live impact, and that's a nice feeling."

Working closely with the FRG, Forsman saw first-hand the valiant efforts being made on a daily basis.

"The leaders of the FRG, especially in this last deployment, put in more hours than I ever though possible, but they did it, never complained and were always there to help, day or night," Forsman said.

"They mowed lawns, helped people repair cars, they even sandbagged houses and moved furniture when the floods came," she said. "They also helped evacuate people out of Comanche Village Two when the Fort Hood Family Housing was on fire. If it needed to be done, they did it.

"And by recognizing them here, we hope they see that we appreciate what they have done to support us and know that they are valued members of our team," she said.

The afternoon was a success in both the eyes of Rose and Forsman, sharing hugs and "thank you" with others.

"It's the right thing to do," Rose said about the awards ceremony. "They knew it was the right thing to volunteer and we knew it's the right thing to let them know we appreciate all they have done."