SALT LAKE CITY --
As part of the 58th annual Governor's Day celebration, approximately 5,000 Utah Air and Army National Guardsmen marched in a pass-and-review parade before the commander in chief of the Utah National Guard, Governor Gary R. Herbert, at Camp Williams September 17.
Alongside the Adjutant General of Utah, Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet, Herbert conducted an official review of troops atop a chauffeured Army Humvee, as Utah Guardsmen stood in formation across the breadth of the field.
In his speech to the National Guardsmen, Herbert verbally saluted them, thanked them for their service, and acknowledged them for their contributions.
"Our total deployment since September 11 in the State of Utah has been 7,224," said Herbert. "I mention that because Utah has been engaged. Utah is a patriotic state who loves freedom and liberty and has done our part in serving our country and our constitution, in protecting the freedoms and liberties that we all enjoy here in this great land."
Herbert revealed that his recent trip to visit Utah Guardsmen in the Middle East has given him a renewed appreciation for their sacrifice.
"It reinforced my belief in the courage, the dedication, the patriotism and the sacrifice of our troops in a very difficult situation there in the Middle East," said Herbert. "I congratulate their efforts and know that they're working hard to represent us as a state and a country."
Herbert also recognized the value of these deployments.
"As we go around the world and deploy our troops, the men and women in uniform are also giving opportunity for others to embrace and enjoy freedom and liberty that too many of us here, in America, take for granted," said Herbert. "Whether they embrace that opportunity, I think is yet to be seen, but at least we stand for freedom and liberty in this country, in this state, and are trying to provide those opportunities for others who are oppressed or less fortunate."
During the ceremony the official reviewing party presented awards to the Utah Guard's Outstanding Performers of the Year. They include:
Soldier of the Year: Sgt. Allessandra Jacobson, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
Army NCO of the Year: Sgt. Guy Mellor, 1-145th Field Artillery
Mellor is also the National Guard Soldier of the Year and will be representing the NG at the All Army Best Warrior Competition.
Army First Sergeant of the Year: 1st Sgt. Kayle Smith, 204th Manuever Enhancement Brigade
Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Jaime Phair, 169th Intelligence Squadron
ANG NCO of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Leonardo Lozano, 151st Comptroller Flight
ANG Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Adrian Broadhead, 151st Comptroller Flight
ANG First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Scott Loveless, 169th Intelligence Squadron
Also during the ceremony, unit colors were presented to the governor and a 19-volley cannon salute was fired in honor of him. Two KC-135 Stratotankers performed a fly-by over Camp Williams, later followed by a combination of six Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.
Following the parade and ceremony, Guardsmen and their families enjoyed several family activities, static displays, and food and information booths.
Annika Hunt, the director of psychological health for the 151st Air Refueling Wing who was attending an information booth, laughed as she told the story of two little boys who stopped at her booth earlier to pick up one of each pamphlet. "Dad's deployed," Hunt said, repeating what the boys had stated earlier. "Mom says we need to get everything we can about stress."
Margo Dillingham, the wife of the 151st ARW Command Chief Master Sgt. Kyle Dillingham, said she attends the Governor's Day every year and she commented on the uniqueness of this Governor's Day.
"The weather was perfect today, not as hot as other years," said Margo Dillingham. "There are a lot more people here than usual. There are more booths and activities this year too. It was fun to enjoy the activities and support the booths."
Staff Sgt. Philip Walker, from the 118th Engineer Sapper Company, brought his wife Alina and their two young sons to the celebration.
"Overall it has been a really fun day," said Alina Walker who showed off the dog-tags her son's got at one of the booths.
Due to renovations at Camp Williams over the last several years, the Governor's Day event has been hosted at Rice-Eccles Stadium. This year, upon completion of the renovations, the event was moved back to Camp Williams.
"We're glad to be home," said Tarbet. "Camp Williams is home for us, and to come back after this four-year absence, we're thrilled to be back and of course this is a picture perfect day. The soldier and airmen looked marvelous, great day."