Then on Thursday night Ranger Iles "sort of" hinted that maybe I should dress "nicely" for the event on Friday. I knew something was up and I just didn't like it.
Friday morning Ranger Iles drove me to post. We went to the gym and found most of "the boyz" and their wives there. Turns out it was the awards ceremony for the FRG leaders, the civilian support organizations on and around post and for the unveiling of the Dietz print for this deployment.
The ceremony began as LTC Butler and CSM Ferrusi presented certificates and gifts to all of the FRG Leaders and the FRSA. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me and don't have any photos. Then awards were presented to a myriad of civilian support groups such as the USO, Red Cross, Ederle Inn, Outdoor Adventures, etc.
As I heard LTC Butler begin with something along the lines of, "We have a civilian supporter from the USA with us...." I reached over and squeezed the heck out of Ranger Iles' knee. Dang it! I hate surprise recognitions. Alas, LTC Butler called me forward so that he and CSM Ferrusi could present me with an American flag and certificate. I was touched, grateful and totally embarrassed as I walked the length of the gym. When I got back to my seat and read the certificate I gasped. Holy Cow! Not only was it flown over FOB Airborne (awesome name!) it was flown on the 8th of November!
Receiving the flag and certificate from LTC Butler and CSM Ferrusi
The flag and certificate
Most of the men around me had no idea about the significance of the 8th of November. Grrr. I realize it was a significant day for 1st Battalion but, still, a HUGE historical day for the 173rd Brigade. If you aren't aware of the significance of 8 November 1965 (Vietnam) please take the time to go here and read about it. Some of you may recognize the song that Big and Rich wrote and made famous about that day. The video for the song can be found at the "go here" link above.
Thank you Kyle! So VERY special!
Mr. James Dietz stepped to the podium to remark about the print for 2-503 for OEF X. Then it was unveiled. Once again Mr Dietz did an exceptional job of capturing the essence of the deployment. Everyone LOVED the print. I wasn't able to get very close to it because the men and their wives were getting their first look at it. However, I was able to find some photos on facebook.
James Deitz print for 173rd, 2-503rd OEF X deployment
Many of the Soldiers got in line to have Mr. Dietz personally sign their prints.
James Dietz signing prints\\
There are more photos of the James Dietz print unveiling here.
A great beginning to another fabulous day in and around Caserme Ederle, Italy. I am grateful I was able to share in the FRG awards as well as the unveiling of the Dietz print.
Oh, and about those Purple Hearts and BSMV? They were awarded on another day after I had left. I hated to miss that.